Robots look better

Robots look better

Auckland’s International Airport has become the first in the world to deploy a ‘digital’ biosecurity officer.

“The idea is for her to take some of the load off MPI officers during peak times by answering simple biosecurity questions from the public,” said MPI’s detection technology manager Brett Hickman.

Vai, which stands for Virtual Assistant Interface (Vai), started work last week and is the first ever digital employee to be deployed at an airport.

MPI is trialling Vai in the airport’s biosecurity arrivals area to see whether she will become a permanent asset in the team. Vai can see, hear and answer arriving international visitors’ questions.

Westpac’s Innovation Fund supported the development of Vai for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), while FaceMe, a New Zealand-based company specialising in AI, developed the technology.

Vai was built using FaceMe’s digital employee platform that offers companies customised digital employees. With training, these ‘employees’ can offer personalised service using natural language.

FaceMe’s avatar technology uses biometrics to learn human interactions and will interact accordingly to ease the customer’s experience.

“Digital employees also learn from every past interaction to sharpen and perfect their skills,” said FaceMe CEO and winner of the Sir Richard Branson ‘Virgin Business Challenge’ Danny Tomsett.

“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,” added Mr Hickman.

“Nothing can replace real human interaction and relationships, but Vai frees up our officers’ time so they can deal with the really important aspects of their role,” he said.

Digital employees

FaceMe, which was recognised at the ‘Deloitte Fast 50’ NZ awards as one of the country’s fastest growing businesses, believes that the market for AI will grow beyond $47 billion per annum.

“Over the next ten years, human contact with organisations will be reduced to less than 15% of interactions. On the other hand, meeting consumers’ expectations is far more complex today than ever before; and there’s still huge strategic importance in customer experience and its impact on company culture, revenue growth and churn. It’s at the intersection of these two realities that there is a powerful opportunity to innovate,” said Mr Tomsett.

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