Manas Kumar, Thinking out Loud

my thoughts & visions for technology

Blessed is He Who Embraces the Human Element

with 2 comments

Search Engines, Social Networking web sites, News web sites and many other web sites are in existence today because there is a large user base that justifies their existence.

No matter how hard web site owners try, by adding photos, blogs, social profiles etc, the fact of the matter is that there is nothing personal, nothing human about content on the web.

Industry innovators such as Google and Microsoft are both actively seeking out new ways of “Humanising” the online experience. By that I mean giving the online activity a the Human Touch.

Natural Language Processing and  the Semantic Web are two of the most prominent initiatives of the current times that are targeted at bringing more and more of the Human touch into the internet realm.

I spell human with a capital H (expect on this occassion) to illustrate the importance and an almost need for reverance of the very essence, the reason for the existence of the internet – Humans.

So how can one bring in the Human Element into the mix?

The answer is not simple and it is not definite. However, I have a theory.

Live Ambassador (a technology developed by Genesis Interactive), enables web site owners to use real life models filmed in high definition video to add a Human face to their otherwise lifeless (no offence) web sites.

The technology allows web site owners to control how the website spokesperson is displayed on the website in terms of on-screen position, playback modes, playback intervals and also provides basic analytics showing total impressions and click-throughs on any particular Live Ambassador website spokesperson clip.

Other than that, there are buil-in “attention grabbers” called Live Spots that can be programmed to show up at any time during the clip and highlight specific elements on a web site to present a stronger, more lively call to action.

Simply put, this is a technology you need to see to believe.

Here’s an example of a website spokesperson with Live Spots call to action

Can this be taken one step further?

Not sure, but let’s try.

Using advanced green screen video technologies, real time video mixing and some really “out of this world” programming it is possible tobuild an engine that can produce a real, dynamic (by that I mean data driven), personal and intelligent Human face of a web site.

I am not talking about speaking avatars and those tacky animated “things” that annoy the living daylights out of me every time I see them on a web site. This is more advanced – way more advanced; almost sci-fi.

Using Natural Language Processing, AIML based Artificial Intelligence objects, Live Ambassador Web site spokesperson technology and advanced video rendering scripts (I’d use Adobe Flex to build them) there might be a way to piece together several small video clips (100% seamlessly) to produce a real life, believable and adaptable website spokesperson for any web site.

Now there are web sites that have attempted to do just that, but the lack of seamlessness makes the whole thing look really unprofessional. Anyone can take 10 video clips, bundle them together as a playlist and have them render on the screen using a simple JS or Flex script that will render the video in flash format during runtime.

There’s no challenge in that – That’s not sci-fi- more like sci-die.

I am talking about an engine that is so smart that it can peice together thousands of smaller clips (may not even be filmed seperately) and using natural langauge detection figure out what to show when and in response to what.

But some of you “Devil’s Advocates” (I know a few) might be thinking  – What about emotion?

Well, because this is going to be a conversation initiated by the web site (sort of one way) we can control the emotions by pre-programming them into the messages. Obviously caterting for all possible sequences is kinda mammoth – but not impossible.

I know the concept is very rough and needs a lot of concrete testing but do you think it is worth building?

Imagine a web where websites spoke to you instead of you having to read through all the text ad understanding how the images relate to the words on a web page.

Imagine a web where searching no longer requires you to type – Simply speak and it is done. The results are read back to you just as though it were a friend responding to your question over the phone.

Imagine a web where you form relationships because of the “people” whom you encounter on web sites (not via social chatting, but actual face to face, real, conversation)

I am not sure if I am able to spark your imagination but if I am, please drop me a line in the comment box.

In the mean time, I need to think a bit more about how this is all going to work.

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2 Responses

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  1. You are a thought leader Manas. Keep it up. Eugene

    Eugene Moreau

    December 30, 2008 at 4:54 am

  2. […] The Dangers of ignoring the Human Element […]


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