Gepetto Avatars

Geppetto Avatar's SophieWant to make an avatar more human? Or help a robot have personality? That’s exactly what the folks at Geppetto Avatars are doing.

I had a chance to talk to co-founder Mark Stephen Meadows, Chief Creative and Chief Science Officer of Geppetto Avatars after his presentation at the 2014 Digital Health Summer Summit. He told me that Geppetto builds hearts and minds for avatars and robots. They are giving avatars personality – and that is a key to more effective avatar-to-human communication.

Geppetto uses natural language processing, sentiment analysis, voice to text recognition and real-time multimedia generation and they add in art, psychology, narrative, and character design. Because the words that come out of our mouth are only 60% of effective communication, Mark says it is important to give the avatars an appropriate tone and cadence of voice, facial expression and other gestures, as well as responsiveness to the individual with whom they are communicating.

To see what I mean, watch this video [note: video no longer available] of a conversation between Sophie Avatar and David, a human with asthma. Not only does Sophie interact in a friendly engaging way with David, but as you can see on the right side of the video, the Geppetto platform is able to do a sentiment analysis of David’s response as he learns that the weather over the next few days is going to be a bit rough on his asthma.

Geppetto is partnering with one of my favorite companies, Health Nuts Media, the creators of Huff and Puff – characters that help youngsters with asthma understand and better manage their conditions. I can’t wait to see these “guys” become even more lovable after they get Geppetto-ized.

Geppetto Avatars has a big vision:  to build a virtual healthcare workforce. And they aim to make home visits happen again. As the proud owner of an iRumba (who is now downstairs vacuuming my living room), I can easily envision a future filled with robots and avatars. After all, I talk to my iRumba even though he doesn’t talk back and is only a round disk that roams around my house picking up dog hair. Imagine if it looked like a living being, had personality and actually talked back!

Anyway, be sure to watch this video interview to learn more about this fascinating company – I am pretty sure there will be a robot or avatar in your future too someday.

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