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Soul Machines collaborate with Air New Zealand

To re-cap from our post earlier in the week on GridAKL, Soul Machines is a ground-breaking, high-tech, Auckland-based company made up of AI researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists and innovative thinkers who are reimagining what is possible in Human Computing. Founded by Dr. Mark Sagar, who has been awarded two consecutive Oscars for his work in computer-generated faces, the company develops what they call ‘digital humans’.

In July of this year, the company revealed their latest creation, Rachel; an avatar that can see, hear, and respond to the emotions of a person in a given environment, essentially putting a human face on artificial intelligence. You can see Newshub’s coverage of Rachel’s amazing features here.

In a collaborative move between Soul Machines and Air New Zealand, the companies have transformed ‘Rachel’ into an air hostess named Sophie. The Soul Machines technology behind Sophie uses neural networks and brain models to bring her to life from the cloud-based human computing engine which sits on top of an artificial Intelligence platform powered by IBM Watson.

After undergoing training about New Zealand as a tourist destination and the Air New Zealand airline, Sophie impressed guests at a recent event in Los Angeles with her advanced emotional intelligence and responsiveness as she answered questions about our beautiful country and Air New Zealand’s products and services.

Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand General Manager of global brand and content marketing, said, “We’re always looking for new ways to improve the travel experience and solve pain points with digital innovation.”

“We’re excited to have had the opportunity to partner with Soul Machines, to bring Sophie to life and explore new ways to approach customer experience.”

Working with Sophie demonstrates Air New Zealand’s continued commitment to harnessing technology to improve customer experience. While there’s no current plan to employ her on a permanent basis, experimenting with digital human technology is just one of the airline’s many endeavors in the innovation space.

Greg Cross, Soul Machines Chief Business Officer, said the team were thrilled to partner with Air New Zealand to showcase Sophie at the Los Angeles event. “Sophie learns from every new human interaction, so the experience was invaluable in creating a more tailored and personalised encounter for those that interacted with Sophie.”

Check out Sophie in action here: