World War II veterans talk to museum visitors with video AI – AV Magazine

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The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has opened an interactive experience that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to allow visitors to talk to veterans of the second world war.


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Voices from the Front deploys voice-recognition software to process museumgoers’ questions and conversational video AI to search for relevant answers from the subjects’ interviews.

Visitors to the new exhibit, which is part of the museum’s new Forbes Gallery of Rare and Iconic Artifacts, stand in front of a console and pick whom they want to converse with. A life-sized image of that person then appears on a screen in front of them.

The museum’s oral-history department teamed up with StoryFile – a specialist in video capture and ‘the inventor of ‘conversational video AI’ – to interview 18 individuals, ranging from military personnel to home-front workers, who could offer a diverse set of experiences of the second world war.

StoryFile used 13 cameras to film the subjects from every angle, so that volumetric videos of the veterans could be produced. Although the screens deployed in Voices from the Front are flat, the content has been shot for use as holograms in the future.

Tuskegee Airman George Hardy

Each Voices from the Front interviewee was asked up to 1,000 questions about their life and wartime experience, creating a robust repository of responses for the software to match to questions from visitors.

StoryFile’s Conversa AI was then used to create the company’s biggest-ever collection of conversational videos. The ‘code-free’ platform allows ‘virtual versions’ of people to be created that can respond to natural language inquiries through conversations.

While generative AI relies on large language models and lacks the ability to consider context, Conversa AI focuses on conversational design and the original interviews to produce more-lifelike experiences.

Lawson Sakai, who served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team

User-friendly interface
To integrate the interactive interviews into a user-friendly interface, the museum turned to Ideum, an experience design firm with which it has collaborated on past exhibits. An intuitive display was created that helps users understand Voices from the Front, differentiate among interviewees and become comfortable with initiating conversations.

The exhibit’s AI can sometimes take up to 20 seconds to find an appropriate answer to a visitor’s question and play the corresponding clip. But as more questions are asked, the AI will improve its indexing and shave the response time down to a few seconds.

The museum’s president and chief executive, Stephen Watson, said: “Voices from the Front will take our storytelling to a new level, allowing guests to continue to have their own conversations – through the power of StoryFile’s conversational AI platform – with members of the second world war generation, even long after they have passed.

“This powerful addition to the museum gives visitors the ability to authentically connect with these individuals, creating an effective way to carry on their memories of the sights, sounds, terrors and triumphs of the war for generations to come.”

Ben Lesser, who survived Dachau concentration camp

StoryFile’s chief executive, James Fong, said: “Our Conversa AI platform delivers authentic storytelling and intimate conversations between the individuals and museum visitors, creating genuine emotional and timeless connections with our heroes.”

StoryFile has previously worked with Los Angeles’ Japanese American National Museum and the Tribeca Film Festival, as well as with companies including Walmart and Omnicom Health Group.

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