How important is it for a customer-facing intelligent virtual assistant to look like a real person? There has been an abundance of academic research on the use of embodiment in virtual agents. Back in 2013, I wrote about one such study by Ann L. Baylor from Florida State University. Baylor’s experiment indicated that human-like talking avatars made it easier for young people to relate to the avatar, especially when the avatar displayed physical characteristics that were similar to the interlocutor’s age, gender, and culture.
GetAbby is a provider of innovative intelligent virtual assistant technologies that leverages conversational relationships and the human identity. GetAbby’s technology is unique among intelligent assistant vendors. While their solution leverages speech recognition and natural language processing capabilities like other vendors, GetAbby’s avatar is an actual human, encoded with their customer’s message in mind.
The technology driving the GetAbby human avatar is called True Image and it enables clients to use any person of their choosing as the avatar. True Image transforms video recordings of the person into an avatar with real human characteristics and expressivity. GetAbby’s avatar can actually understand, educate, coach, and remind users.
Why does GetAbby use human avatars? GetAbby focuses on what they term the psychology of engagement. In their view, to be truly engaging a virtual agent must win the trust of the human with whom it’s interacting.
Wayne Scholar, CTO at GetAbby, gave a presentation at the Mobile Voice Conference 2015. In the presentation, Scholar listed three key characteristics a virtual agent requires to build trust: Ability, Benevolence, and Integrity. GetAbby has found that human avatars have an advantage over any other type of animated character in exhibiting all these fundamental human characteristics and in building trust, because humans are inherently influenced by our natural urge to communicate with other humans.
As Scholar noted in his presentation, human avatars also skirt the danger of the uncanny valley. Animated characters or cartoon figures that too closely resemble humans, but that aren’t quite human, can be repelling to people and destroy any sense of engagement.
GetAbby analytics verify that customers have a high level of engagement with the human avatar. 70% follow the avatar to make an online purchase. Over 85% say they find the avatar to be trustworthy and would interact with it again. The solution provides for a broad range of data analytics, including: usage trends, unanswered question logs, and information on context patterns.
The GetAbby human avatar technology seems to be well-suited for a variety of use cases. GetAbby’s solutions platform focuses on call center, candidate selection & assessment, financial, government, healthcare, and retail industries. You can visit the GetAbby website to see a demo of the human avatar technology.