As machines move ever closer to matching the intelligence of human beings, we've been taking note of influential AI leaders - and they're right here in New Zealand! 

June marked the launch of New Zealand's first ever artificial intelligence forum, sparking interest in our country's development of cognitive computing. 

So what is artificial intelligence?

Put simply, it's a machine's ability to be able to imitate intelligent human behaviour. As humans; we learn, understand, think and experience. Now machines are beginning to do the same, thanks to the fascinating work of tech professionals around the world. 

Here in Aotearoa, we're taking major steps towards creating intelligent computing systems that are capable of imitating humans. We take a look at three innovative inventions that have come out of New Zealand recently. 

Avatar Technology

This one is for the film fanatics out there! If you've watched blockbuster hits like Avatar, King Kong and Spiderman 2, you were more than likely impressed with their visual effects. Ever marvelled at how almost-human those blue creatures seem? Perhaps you were captivated by one of the most realistic monsters in modern cinema.

Did you know that the creative technology that brought the above characters to life was thanks to an award-winning Kiwi professor from Auckland University? Following 5 years of crucial research, Dr Mark Sagar has put New Zealand on the map with high tech company, Soul Machines. 

They have succeeded in creating digital humans, or avatars, that are able to simulate human behaviour. With a growing portfolio of virtual people, Soul Machines have established themselves as lead players in the AI world with their world-first technology. 

One of their avatars, Nadia, has already been hired by Australia's National Disability Insurance Agency and is actively helping disabled customers. The latest addition to their digital family, Rachel, serves as an online financial services assistant. 

With work in progress on creating artificially intelligent cartoons, Soul Machines are definitely proving that New Zealand is a hub of tech creativity.

Meet their avatars here

Taking Flight

Air New Zealand is already a big name in Kiwi households and now our flag carrier airline is taking big steps towards a digital future. Earlier this year, they launched an artificial intelligent chatbot to their customer base. Bravo Oscar Tango, or 'Oscar' as customers now know him, is Air NZ's 'bot in training'.

Oscar can answer an impressive 5,000 questions and is constantly evolving his information database. Due to his creators' clever technology, his intelligence increases the more he chats with customers. 

The airline launched Oscar with hopes that he will become the ultimate virtual travel assistant, able to guide travellers through their entire journey - from leaving home to reaching your destination. 

Although Oscar is still earning his wings, he is one of the first of his kind in the industry and will lead the travel world in its digital evolvement. 

Discover Air New Zealand's Oscar here

Intelligent E-commerce

When you're shopping online with your favourite Kiwi brands, have you ever wondered how they're able to suggest accurate product recommendations based on your buying behaviour?

It's highly likely you've engaged with SLI Systems' ground-breaking AI technology, which is serving big retailers like Harvey Norman. SLI's integrated search software uses artificial intelligence to predict items that are relevant to your recent purchases. 

Their software is getting them noticed in big tech circles, with reports that their e-commerce clients are seeing conversion rates increase by a whopping 71%. SLI Systems have been listed as one of NZ's Top 100 Tech Exporters and are turning shoppers into buyers across the country.

Check out SLI here

 

With the future of Kiwi tech looking more promising by the month, we can't wait to see what our country comes up with next. 

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