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Complimentary AI | Amiable Introductions

12 March 2024

Using Generative AI to create an icebreaker at CogX 2023


Introductions can be painful, awkward or just a bit stiff…especially if you’ve been doing them all day. What if you could use AI to handle small talk for you, in the style of Stephen Fry, a pirate or even Shakespeare?

These were our thoughts when we partnered with CogX Festival, an event that celebrates inspiration, impact and transformational change, this year they were asking the question ‘How do we get the next 10 years right?’.

We wanted to show up with something that used the latest in technology, to spark conversation, but in a human, fun and memorable way. As the drinks and food were complimentary, why not the compliments too? So we decided to build a prototype AI that handed out compliments to those who interacted with it and initiated lighthearted chats.

Not just a nice thing to do, behavioural science proves that compliments can help us feel more fulfilled, boost our self-esteem and improve how we see ourselves. Receiving praise floods the brain with the happy chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, lifting our spirits and triggering our motivation to achieve more, giving us space to think creatively.

So how did we create our Complimentary AI? To begin with, it needed to capture an image of the person it would be complimenting. By using Amazon’s Rekognition software, we could examine the picture and label everything it saw. From hats to hair, Rekognition has the ability to label thousands of items. Whilst our Complimentary AI captures personal images, these are not stored anywhere, with only the Rekognition labels remaining behind.

Dan Diggins our lead developer and master guitar player testing Amazon’s Rekognition

Once the image had been analysed, we used ChatGPT to generate a compliment based on the labels found. There was a three-step approach to writing the prompts:

Firstly, priming the model to deliberately not comment on gender, race or any potentially offensive subjects. Secondly, to add a bit of personality to the compliment and to keep it fresh, we told ChatGPT to assume personas that we cycled through; including Brian Cox, a ‘witty bartender’ and Thor. The third and final step was to give a compliment based on the labels that were seen, pushed from Rekognition’s API.

Example ChatCPT call using the personality of a witty bartender

From there, the compliment created by ChatGPT was sent to an AI voice generator, ElevenLabs, to produce audio of a realistic voice from the text. We had fun exploring the different voices we could use, but we finally ended up using an Irish accent purely because we felt it was warm and charming, landing the compliments well.

Our Complimentary AI then needed some kind of face with realistic and accurate mouth movements. Using an Oculus plugin we mapped out 15 different mouth shapes. It made our Complimentary AI appear more human with approachable and personable characteristics.

The animated visual interface of Complementary AI which uses the Unity Oculus Plugin

After all these considerations, tests and tinkering, we unleashed it on the public at CogX.

And the Complimentary AI was a real attractor! It injected humour into the room, making it an effective icebreaker by sparking conversations in a way that was easy and effortless. Word quickly spread on the CogX grapevine and we ended up having to form an orderly queue to use the activation.

Now, that is a compliment!

head shot of simon levitt global creative technology director at imagination

Simon Levitt

Global Creative Technology Director, Imagination London

Simon is our Global Creative Technology Director who consistently drives forward ground-breaking digital projects that are changing the nature of consumer experiences across the globe. Simon pushes the boundaries in immersive experiences that are personalised, connected and measurable.