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Meet Sophie, Air New Zealand's digital 'human'

Meet Sophie, Air New Zealand's digital 'human'

Air New Zealand is trialling a new team member in the form of Sophie, a digital human created by Soul Machines to answer questions about New Zealand as a tourist destination and the airline’s products and services.

Sophie is powered by artificial intelligence and has an advanced emotional intelligence and responsiveness in order to answer questions. She was recently shown off alongside the launch of the airline's ‘A better way to fly’ campaign and underscores its commitment to harnessing technology to improve customer experience.

Her performance at the event impressed guests and while Air New Zealand has 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. 

Air New Zealand general manager of global brand and content marketing Jodi Williams says it’s 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.”

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 Los Angeles launch, including teaching her about New Zealand and Air New Zealand, tweaking her Kiwi accent and perfecting her facial expressions.

Chief business officer at Soul Machines Greg Cross says it’s creating some of the world’s first emotionally responsive and interactive digital humans and it was 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.”

This story first appeared at StopPress.

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