Shoppers at the soon-to-be-opened Noel Leeming store at Westfield Newmarket will be greeted by Nola, a digital human from Auckland company FaceMe -- about to become UneeQ -- who will help shoppers navigate the store and answer questions.
Noel Leeming CEO Tim Edwards said Nola would one of the first human-like interface backed by artificial intelligence to be used in New Zealand retail.
“She’s highly conversational and has a database of queries and answers that will be updated as her training progresses,” he said.
“We see her being a new way customers can interact in store and have committed to growing her across platforms as we learn what our customers like about her and what they want her to help with."
Noel Leeming says it will invest in Nola's learning and development to give ‘her’ a wider role.
“Much like the human mind, Nola’s knowledge and expertise will develop with information through customer interactions over time,” the company said.
Nola was created in partnership with UneeQ and Christchurch based business software developer Jade Software Corporation. Jade CEO, Charlotte Walshe said Nola was designed improve customer experiences and engagement.
“She will be a helpful store concierge at the front entrance, guiding customers and providing information, with the ability to call on her Noel Leeming team members for additional support should the customer desire it."
FaceMe becomes UneeQ
FaceMe was founded in 2009 as a division of Hitech Solutions as a provider of browser based videoconferencing and was spun out in 2012.
The company announced in August that it was changing its name to UneeQ saying its journey had brought it to the point where “we’ve realised we’ve outgrown FaceMe as the brand identity of our company.”
However the UneeQ website (www.digitalhumans.com) is presently only one page which states (at the time of writing): “FaceMe is going global” in six days, and provides a link to the announcement on the FaceMe website.
In March 2018 the company’s AI avatar, Val, debuted in Auckland airport, answering travellers’ biosecurity questions. In October 2018 Vodafone announced it would use a FaceMe avatar to put a human face onto AI based automated customer service applications.
In April 2019 health insurer Southern Cross Health Society claimed it would become the world’s first health insurer to use a digital human the next NZ company to an AI-powered human-looking digital when it announced plans use FaceMe technology to offer Kiwis a new way to learn about health insurance.