More Time Spent in Online Meetings? This Man Created an AI Double of Himself to Fool His Office

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At this point, most of us have experienced the long-drawn-out video call or meeting that again probably could have been an email. Well, a technologist has recently found a way to be included in these calls, without really being there.

As our office lives have shifted from a freeway commute to a couch commute, we’ve seen an increase in internet traffic particularly with online meeting platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype etc. In some cases employees are tasked with all-day online meetings, leaving little time for outside activities like say… running to the restroom, or a quick walk around the block (which we all desperately need to keep our sanity).

Speaking of keeping our sanity, a new invention to do just that has been conceived. Matt Reed, a creative technologist at marketing firm redpepper in Nashville TN, has created what he calls the Zoombot.

What is a Zoombot you might ask? It’s a doppelgänger of oneself to sit in on video conferences while you make a snack in the kitchen or hurry to check the mail! An amazing idea, right? We think so.

This idea was formed when Matt Reed, “noticed someone on Twitter (jokingly) complaining they don’t have time to go outside anymore because they’re always on Zoom calls.” (We know how he feels). The thought was then, “How can I get someone out of this?”

Matt Reed explains “I didn’t really mean for it to be anything … but I showed it to a few people at work and they started laughing,” Reed says. “I was like, ‘This is the kind of thing the world needs right now.'”

And he couldn’t have been any more correct.  

The AI doppelganger is slow to respond, almost as if there is a lag in the network. It also doesn’t really blink, and uses a robotic voice like Siri or Alexa, “but that’s the point,” he says.

By first recording and screenshotting different (and often confused) facial expressions, he then program the images to cycle through, “it almost looks like Reed has a poor connection—and he programmed his bot to say as much.”

Most of the work is done through a custom HTML web application using an open source library called Artyom.js to listen and respond to prompts, processing audio, and listening for certain phrases like “hello.” It can say anything he wants it to. Then using software called ManyCam, Matt creates a video input for his webcam to use and launched his prototype after one morning’s work.

For those of you who are curious, or would like to create your own Zoombot, “head over to Reed’s Github account, where the full repository is open source.” https://github.com/mcreed/zoombot

You can see his Zoombot in action on YouTube as well using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ2MOePZuRg#action=share

If you need help with managed IT Services contact EnhancedTECH at 714-970-9330 or contact us at [email protected].

-Emmy Seigler

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/hero-creates-ai-doppelg%c3%a4nger-of-himself-to-get-out-of-zoom-video-meetings/ar-BB12oEin

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-blue-long-sleeve-shirt-and-black-pants-standing-beside-brown-wooden-table-3913012/

Samantha Keller
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