NEWS: UneeQ digital human tour guide concept launches in Darwin

Darwin's digital human tour guide | UneeQ

The potential of digital humans lies in the sheer number of ways you didn’t know they could help improve lives... until you start imagining it.

For instance, how could a digital human tour guide help in the wonderful and one-of-a-kind city of Darwin? That is what we explored, in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and the City of Darwin.

We’re pleased and excited to introduce you to the world’s first digital human tour guide, designed specifically for the City of Darwin and who can fit right in your pocket.

Visitors to Darwin can explore the concept first-hand by going to the purpose-built kiosk stands around the city today. But here’s a sneak peek of what the future holds.

What is a digital human tour guide?

The digital human tour guide concept for the City or Darwin is envisaged to be a complete wayfaring tool which users can activate it on their mobile phone by visiting a kiosk in the city (conveniently located around tourist hotspots). Then, by scanning a QR code, the digital guide would be available on their phone, staying constantly available to chat or advise on the best places to go.

“The guided tour would makes use of UneeQ’s conversational AI platform, optimised for emotional connection with the user,” explained Nick Sokolich, UneeQ’s Global VP Sales.

“For example, the tourist might ask ‘where’s good to eat around here?’ and the digital human could respond with some local recommendations.

“Importantly, and because we’re all about brand-embodiment, digital human tour guides can be co-designed and built so they’re plugged into the local culture. They dress like locals, they speak like locals, so it’s like having a local showing you around something that’s fascinating to explore in places like Darwin, brimming with local pride and personality.”

What problems would a digital human tour guide solve?

Much of the UneeQ digital human tour guide’s potential lies in how it can be developed and integrated into a true smart city. The benefits (both that we can realise today and will become apparent tomorrow) start with the customer, run through local businesses and ultimately reach the city itself.

A digital human tour guide is a tailored wayfinding tool that helps people navigate places they’ve never been to before. Visitors can take their time not just seeing new places, but exploring them on their own terms, without feeling the need to “keep up” with a group.

For visitors with mobility issues, this is particularly important. It means they can see the best a city or other location has to offer on their watch, not on somebody else’s.

A digital human tour guide can also be highly personalised to the individual, asking them what they want to do, helping them plan a schedule or navigate foreign transport routes, and recommending activities that may suit what they’ve previously enjoyed doing.

Language is often a difficult hurdle to overcome for foreign tourists. In the year to March 2019, 297,000 international tourists arrived in the Northern Territory, with visitors from Japan, Germany and China making up the top five by country. The potential for each international visitor to have a digital human tour guide who speaks their language (although not explored in this concept) is a huge advantage to helping more people get the most out of their trip.

And finally, there’s companionship. More than half (52%) of all international visitors to Darwin in 2018 travelled alone. We already know the power of emotional connection when people interact with digital humans over faceless technologies; a digital human tour guide can be your best friend in the city, accompanying you wherever you go and staying always available for a chat.

For the city itself, there’s the chance to boost tourism and local businesses. The digital human could direct people to shops, attractions or eateries. They can help visitors see the best of the city, so they’re more likely to recommend it to their friends. 

Globally, the top two ways people choose a holiday destination are by taking the recommendations of previous holiday-makers—an average 69% of people choose a destination based on review sites, followed in second by word of mouth (averaging 40% across all age groups).

Building cities for the future—and present

Nick had the final word to say on where digital humans fit in the future of our cities.

“We believe digital humans have a distinct role to play in the development of smart cities,” Nick began. “They can be personalised to the local culture, data-driven on millions of recommendations and other data points, and integrated so they’re always available. 

“Perhaps most importantly, it’s their emotional quotient—the ‘EQ’ in UneeQ—that makes them particularly special. 

“We know people bond with digital humans by design. The city of the future is less robotic when it’s got a human face.”