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Air NZ’s digital human steals the show in Los Angeles

Air New Zealand has teamed up with Soul Machines, to showcase a digital human powered by artificial intelligence at a recent event in Los Angeles with a view to exploring how this fast-evolving technology can help travellers.

Sophie the digital human, impressed guests at the North American launch of Air New Zealand’s new global marketing campaign A Better Way to Fly with her advanced emotional intelligence and responsiveness as she answered questions about New Zealand as a tourist destination and the airline’s products and services.

The Soul Machines technology behind Sophie uses neural networks and brain models to bring its digital humans to life from their cloud-based human computing engine which sits on top of an artificial Intelligence platform powered by IBM Watson.

Sophie underwent specific training prior to the LA launch including teaching her about New Zealand and Air New Zealand, tweaking her Kiwi accent and perfecting her facial expressions.   The idea is that working with Sophie underscores Air New Zealand’s commitment to harnessing technology to improve customer experience.

While there’s no current plan to employ Sophie on a permanent basis, experimenting with digital human technology is just one of the airline’s many forays into the innovation space.

Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand general manager of global brand and content marketing says, “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.”

Soul Machines is a ground-breaking high-tech company of AI researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists and innovative thinkers; re-imagining what is possible in Human Computing.

They bring technology to life by creating incredibly life-like, emotionally responsive Digital Humans with personality and character that allow machines to talk to us literally face-to-face.

They use Neural Networks that combine biologically inspired models of the human brain and key sensory networks to create a virtual central nervous system that they call our Human Computing Engine.

Greg Cross, Soul Machines chief business officer says, “We’re creating some of the world’s first emotionally responsive and interactive digital humans and we 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 personalized encounter for those that interacted with Sophie.”

You can check out Sophie in action here:

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