Auckland Airport claims world-first with AI-powered avatar

Digital biosecurity officer launched as part of a trial of virtual assistant technologies at the airport

Vai, Auckland Airport's new digital biosecurity officer
Vai, Auckland Airport's new digital biosecurity officer

Visitors arriving into Auckland’s International Airport are getting a very hands-on experience with virtual assistants after the airport launched what it claims is the first ‘digital’ biosecurity officer worldwide.

Vai, which stands for virtual assistant interface, started her official employment onsite last week as part of a trial of the technology in the airport’s biosecurity arrivals area. The trial is being conducted by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in partnership with Westpac’s Innovation Fund and is about taking some of the load off its officers during peak times, MPI detection technology manager, Brett Hickman, said. Vai will do this by screening the public using simple biosecurity questions.

Vai is the brainchild of New Zealand company, FaceMe, and is based on avatar technology that uses biometrics to learn human interactions, as well as natural language processing.

“Digital employees also learn from every past interaction to sharpen and perfect their skills,” FaceMe CEO, Danny Tomsett, said.

“Vai is highly conversational and has been trained through every interaction, as well as data available on the website. She embodies the AI experience with human-like qualities, including a friendly personality and emotional understanding.”

While Hickman said nothing will replace human interaction and relationships, having Vai in place frees up officers to deal with the “really important aspects of their role”.

The Westpac Innovation Fund is a $10 million initiative established jointly by Westpac and the New Zealand Government. Westpac head of public sector strategy, Brent Chalmers, said the fund saw value in supporting the trial of AI-based avatars in different parts of government.

“The aim is to help create services and experiences that help grow a better and more innovative New Zealand,” he said.

Findings from the trial are expected to be published in April.

FaceMe isn’t the only New Zealand-based company getting into the AI-powered avatar space. Soul Machines, another startup in the land of the long white cloud formed by Mark Sagar, has created a number of avatars including Nadia, a virtual human voiced by Cate Blanchett that’s now being trialled by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Nadia was designed to operate across multiple channels from the outset to create a consistent interaction for clients, with the face being just one representation.

Another example of Soul Machines’ virtual humans in action is Sophie, a pilot customer interaction project for Air New Zealand.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu       

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

We can deliver DIP N PAY JP54,JET A1,D2,FOB @Rotterdam CRUDE OIL CIF /DIP N PAY TANKFARM CHINA ,we have sellers that can work based on st...

JSafra Bank

Google+ and Blogger cozy up with new comment system

Read more

JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 EN590Dear Buyer/ Buyer mandate,We currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Houston for JP54,D2, D6,JetA1 with good and w...

Collins Johnson

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

Great content and well explained. Everything you need to know about Digital Design, this article has got you covered. You may also check ...

Ryota Miyagi

Why the art of human-centred design has become a vital CX tool

Read more

Interested in virtual events? If you are looking for an amazing virtual booth, this is definitely worth checking https://virtualbooth.ad...

Cecille Pabon

Report: Covid effect sees digital events on the rise long-term

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. It’s really impressive.Click Here & Create Status and share with family

Sanwataram

Predictions: 14 digital marketing predictions for 2021

Read more

Blog Posts

A Brand for social justice

In 2020, brands did something they’d never done before: They spoke up about race.

Dipanjan Chatterjee and Xiaofeng Wang

VP and principal analyst and senior analyst, Forrester

Determining our Humanity

‘Business as unusual’ is a term my organisation has adopted to describe the professional aftermath of COVID-19 and the rest of the tragic events this year. Social distancing, perspex screens at counters and masks in all manner of situations have introduced us to a world we were never familiar with. But, as we keep being reminded, this is the new normal. This is the world we created. Yet we also have the opportunity to create something else.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Should your business go back to the future?

In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards the familiar. How can businesses capitalise on this to overcome the recessionary conditions brought on by COVID? Craig Flanders explains.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

Sign in