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Image: Daimler

Daimler’s financial and mobility services division has made a strategic investment in Soul Machines, a start-up from New Zealand specializing in emotional intelligence for digital avatars.  Daimler Financial Services intends to further develop these for use in its customer experience, having already worked with Soul Machines on a pilot project called ‘Sarah’, trialled at its US call center.

‘Sarah’ [pictured], capable of answering the most frequently-asked questions, will become a personal concierge able to recognize customer needs and to offer the right information at the right time – a key interaction as consumers shift to making their purchase decisions via digital platforms rather than face-to-face at dealerships.

Udo Neumann, global CIO of Daimler Financial Services, made the announcement at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Florida, this week. “After successfully testing how artificial intelligence helps our employees better service customers, we are now investing in a disruptive technology to further enhance the customer experience,” he said. “Emotional intelligence will play a crucial role in adapting services, such as car financing, leasing and insurance, car-sharing or ride-hailing to customers. Different from today’s voice-based, assistance technology, ‘Sarah’ will be programmed to recognize non-verbal behavior in real-time using face recognition.”

Soul Machines, founded in 2016 and based in Auckland, describes itself as “reimagining how we connect with machines… Our vision is to humanize artificial intelligence to better humanity.”

-Farah Alkhalisi