Digital Employees Have ‘Landed’ At Auckland Airport

Virtual Assistant Interface (Vai)

Auckland’s International Airport has become the first world-wide 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,” says 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 world-leading digital employee platform which 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,” says 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,’ adds Brett.

“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,” says Brett.

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