CANNES – First off, don’t call them avatars. They’re “digital humans” with their own biologically inspired emotional models. And they are ready to help bring brands to life in amazing ways.
In this, Soul Machines Co-Founder & CEO Mark Sagar walks The Weather Company CMO Jordan Bitterman through three immersive and utterly absorbing examples of how AI technology is “humanizing” computing. The Weather Company is part of IBM’s Watson group and Watson is being used by Soul Machines.
“You can basically bring anything to life, whether it’s a virtual spokesperson or we can even animate non-human characters,” Sagar says as he begins to summon virtual humans on a computer screen. “So it creates a level of engagement never seen before.”
The first example that Sagar presents is a baby girl who appears to be sitting in a car seat directly facing him. “She can see my face. She’s responding to me. She’s not copying me. She’s got her own emotional models,” Sagar explains.
This becomes evident when Sagar moves away from the computer. The girl’s expression sours as her eyes try to find him. A graph superimposed on the computer screen shows her stress level rising. When Sagar comes back into view and speaks, she smiles. “I’m basically calming her down with my voice and my facial expressions. Just like you do with a child.”
When he shows her a book, she tells him what it is. Her pupils respond as he adjusts her simulated level of dopamine.
The next two examples are virtual female adults who are programmed to be able to interact with humans, for example answering questions from customers on behalf of brands. All the while showing genuine human emotions.
“We’ve actually got absolutely precise control over what their faces can do,” Sagar says, noting that every single virtual eyelash is constructed individually.
To Sagar, such uses of technology represents for brands a “whole vocabulary which has been untapped so far in terms of human computer interaction and it’s totally ready to go now.”