Air New Zealand teamed up with tech company Soul Machines to showcase a digital human, powered by artificial intelligence, at a recent event in Los Angeles.
Sophie the digital human was available for guests at the North American launch of Air New Zealand’s new global marketing campaign A Better Way to Fly. Her emotional intelligence and responsiveness allowed her to answer 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 create a cloud-based Human Computing Engine. Sophie underwent specific ‘training’ prior to the LA launch including teaching her about New Zealand and Air New Zealand, tweaking her a Kiwi accent and perfecting her facial expressions.
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 forays into the innovation space. Other examples include the Economy Skycouch, the Airband – that tracks the progress of children travelling unaccompanied – and Biometric Bag Drop.
Air New Zealand general manager of global brand and content marketing Jodi Williams 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.”
Greg Cross, chief business officer at Soul Machines, added: “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.