Look Who’s Talking! Character.AI Launches Two-Way Avatar Conversation Feature

AI avatars continue to build momentum.

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Published: July 3, 2024

Rhys Fisher Fisher

Character.AI users are now able to talk with digital avatars over calls … and the avatars will talk back.

Described by the company as “like having a phone call with a friend,” the Character Calls solution promises a “seamless” two-way voice conversation with an AI avatar of the user’s choosing.

The feature is now generally available on Character.AI’s app, and will support multiple languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.

The AI avatars are generated by users, who can begin a conversation with their desired Character with a single tap of a button.

In discussing the possible uses for the Character Calls feature, Charcater.AI outlines improving language skills, practicing for job interviews, and deploying them within role-playing games.

However, in an un-authored blog on the company’s website, Character.AI emphasized that there are no limitations to where and how the tool can be used:

At Character.AI, our mission is to create immersive and personalized AI experiences that seamlessly integrate into any moment of your daily life.

“Whether it’s morning motivation or evening relaxation, our team is dedicated to making AI accessible and intuitive, one advancement at a time. Character Calls represents a significant milestone in our journey towards, enhancing where, when, and how you can interact with Characters.”

The company also outlined the following additional Character Calls’ capabilities:

  • Experience minimal waiting with reduced latency for smoother interactions.
  • Interrupt conversations instantly with a simple tap.
  • Choose from characters with a variety of voices, accents, and personalities.
  • Communicate with your character through text.
  • Seamlessly switch between texting and talking to keep the conversation dynamic.

An Avalanche of Avatars

While Character.AI’s latest enhancement helps to strengthen its position as one of the major AI avatar innovators in the sector, plenty of others are also making moves.

Indeed, in a recent interview with The Verge, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan suggested that his company may also be about to enter the AI avatar space.

In discussing the workplace benefits of AI, Yuan mentions the idea of advanced digital avatars that can accurately replicate a worker’s image, voice, and decision-making capabilities.

The CEO envisages a world where these avatars would be able to essentially automate people’s jobs, freeing them up to focus on more important matters, such as spending time with family and pursuing other interests/hobbies, as Yuan quips:

I truly hate reading email every morning, and ideally, my AI version for myself reads most of the emails.

Elsewhere, OpenAI has announced that additional features to ChatGPT Voice Mode will be “rolling out in the coming weeks.”

The enhanced Voice feature is part of the new GPT-4o range that boasts an advanced LLM system capable of real-time reasoning across audio, video, and text. With the ability to respond to audio in approximately 320 milliseconds, the company claims that it can match human response times for natural conversation.

As seen in the below video demonstration released by OpenAI, users are able to speak directly to the Voice Mode solution and ask it to reply with different character voices.

Not only is the user able to interrupt the tool mid-sentence to make adjustments, but GPT-4o also provides suggestions and comes up with its own ideas when prompted.

Customer Service Avatars

While the above avatars can all be applied and leveraged within a customer experience and service setting, that is not their primary function.

This is where ServiceNow steps in.

Recently announced at the company’s Knowledge 24 event, ServiceNow plans to release generative AI (GenAI) digital customer service avatars.

These interactive avatars aim to enhance employee and customer experiences by providing more engaging and personalized interactions.

Developed with NVIDIA, the solution utilizes ServiceNow’s Now Assist GenAI, alongside AI enterprise software and NVIDIA’s Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE) for speech, large language models, and animation.

In discussing the potential of the new product, ServiceNow President and Chief Operating Officer, CJ Desai, commented:

As AI becomes deeply ingrained in our everyday lives, customers and employees expect technology to intelligently learn and adapt to their individual work and communication styles.

“We’re continuously expanding our collaboration with NVIDIA to explore new ways for people to interact with generative AI through Now Assist, to help ensure AI is a friendly, engaging, and empathetic experience for everyone, based on users’ preferences.”

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