3D Chatbot

The client had a unique challenge, they needed a solution to handle customer service inquiries while also creating an engaging and entertaining experience for website visitors. Employing a traditional, human-monitored chatbot was not practical, as it would require constant staff oversight.

Two different types of chatbot solutions were explored. The first involved uploading pre-defined questions and answers, and the AI chatbot would analyze visitor queries and provide responses based on its product knowledge. The second option was a more advanced ChatGPT-type chatbot that could learn from the internet to deliver accurate answers. Ultimately, the decision was made to implement the first type of AI chatbot. This choice was influenced by the project's initiation in late 2021 when ChatGPT-like AI was not as widespread. At that time, the most advanced AI chatbots available were Pandorabot and BotLibre.

The Vision

Creating an engaging and entertaining interaction with the AI chatbot was a key objective. Simple text-based chat was considered uninspiring. While BotLibre offered animated characters, they were limited to animated GIFs with mouth movements that didn't sync with the voice. To achieve a more sophisticated solution, a collaboration with a third-party 3D developer was initiated. Together, we designed a digital representation of the company's mascot, a 3D character rigged for independent movement and supporting lip sync Viseme (representing facial and mouth positions during speech). Amazon Polly was employed for providing the character's voice, ensuring rapid and reliable voice data transmission.

User Experience

Once the 3D character was ready, discussions were held with the client to determine how visitors would interact with it. Various concepts were considered, including a full-page approach, a window-sized chat interface, or a split window with text on one side. The final decision was to incorporate a small window activated by a button, similar to conventional chatbots. This window featured rounded corners to soften its appearance and a drop shadow to distinguish it from the website. Instead of displaying a continuous list of questions and answers, a Closed Caption button was added to reveal the text of what the 3D character was saying.
The end result was truly impressive. The 3D AI Chatbot, designed to engage and entertain, offered a dynamic experience. It moved autonomously, enhancing its interaction with visitors, and had the potential for additional facial expressions like happiness, sadness, and excitement, adding a new dimension to user engagement.

Furthermore, an exciting development was in progress. The team was actively working on implementing a real-time live chat feature that would enable the client's staff to use the 3D character on platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). This innovative live chat system would incorporate facial recognition and gestures, allowing for a more immersive and interactive customer service experience. These advancements represented a significant leap in enhancing customer engagement and streamlining support services.

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