Avatar joins customer service team at Air New Zealand

Sophie, the 'digital human', greeted guests at the recent US launch of Air New Zealand’s global marketing campaign A Better Way to Fly.

Sophie showed her advanced emotional intelligence and responsiveness as she answered questions about New Zealand as a tourist destination and the airline’s products and services.

Air New Zealand worked with Soul Machines to create ‘Sophie’ as it explores how artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies can be used to help travelers.

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There is a lot of customer pain points and frustrations that we can solve with digital innovationChristopher Luxon, Air New Zealand

Soul Machines says the 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.

Related: Avi Golan on how Air NZ unleashes digital transformation

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“We know there is a lot of pain points and frustrations that we can solve with digital innovation,” says Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon. “We want to make the experience better for our customers.”

Luxon says artificial intelligence is one of the areas they are focusing on to achieve this, starting with Oscar the Bot, and now, with Sophie.

Sophie underwent training prior to the US launch, including teaching her about New Zealand and Air New Zealand, tweaking her Kiwi accent and perfecting her facial expressions.

Related: Watson goes to work at Auckland's Viaduct

Soul Machines shows its human-like avatar ‘Rachel’ which is designed to create emphatetic user interactions with emotional intelligence technology in combination with the AI of Watson (Photo by Divina Paredes)

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