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Brief Published: 21 Feb 2018

Ava: Humanised Customer Service Bot

A new service bot called Ava is leading the way for ever-more sophisticated chatbots with increasingly human characteristics. New Zealand-based artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Soul Machines says Ava is modelled on the facial scan and voice recordings of actress Shushila Takao. The bot is the result of a collaboration with American design software maker Autodesk.

Ava is part of a new era of voice activation and automation sweeping through retail. In this environment, humanised forms of digital communication are evolving that more effectively reflect and mimic human subtleties. Ava even expresses human flaws – like facial muscle twitches. Such concepts can supplement and even replace human customer service staff.

Soul Machines used computer-generated image technologies, neuroscience and artificial intelligence to create its real-time-responsive digital customer service character. Scheduled to make its debut in mid-2018 on Autodesk’s website, Ava will handle more than 50,000 subscriber requests each month using IBM Watson. It will cognitively match questions with a catalogue of answers, and also scan facial expressions via laptop or mobile cameras to gauge feelings and answer empathetically.

Ava can comprehend nuances in people’s tone of voice (typed or spoken) to better understand what kind of mood they are in. Ava’s creators also emphasise that it is incapable of ‘feeling’ anger. Equipped with a virtual nervous system, Ava receives a hit of virtual dopamine when it detects that a person has smiled, triggering a similar response.

For more, see Reflexive Retail, Empathetic Brand Engagement and Emotional Edge in Look Ahead 2018.