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'Visionary' technology from double Oscar winner

'Visionary' technology from double Oscar winner links with BCS to commercialise avatar-aided self check in

IT'S HUMAN, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT.........Limbic's revolutionary avatar technology links with BCS to transform the check in process

Checking in at the airport with your own personal avatar assistant will soon be possible, with the teaming of double Academy Award winner Dr Mark Sagar's new avatar technology, and airport technology company BCS.

In a contract signed last week, Dr Sagar's real time, naturally expressive, interactive and self-learning avatars will link with BCS's self check-in kiosks, to radically change the check-in process.

Limbic's groundbreaking technology is used to create intelligent, live and highly expressive systems that, to interact with, are more like humans than robots. The partnership with BCS is the first significant commercial deal for Limbic's pioneering technology.

Patrick Teo, BCS CEO explains: "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch that people had when checking in at a traditional manned counter. Travelling can be stressful and our aim is to make the interaction between human (passenger) and computer (check-in) as natural and helpful as possible."

The avatar developed by Dr Sagar and his team at Limbic, (a commercial spinoff from research being undertaken at University of Auckland's Laboratory for Animate Technologies), is capable of responding to emotion, combining biologically based models of faces and neural systems to create naturally intelligent and highly expressive interactive systems.

The avatar will be able to 'read' people's faces and emotions, and offer personalised help and advice during the check-in process very much akin to the human-assisted check-in process. Dr Sagar's work at Limbic follows on from his role as special projects supervisor at Weta Digital, where bringing Spiderman, King Kong and Avatar to life with realistic facial motions won him two consecutive Oscars.

The collaboration with BCS will see the interactive technology at work in airline automated check-in and bag drop systems, with BCS working alongside Limbic to further develop and commercialise the technology to match airline/aviation industry requirements.

This work will be assisted by funding of $2.4m from Callaghan Innovation, recently awarded to BCS.

Marc Michel BCS GM of Services and Solutions says the company is already in talks with a number of potential customers for the avatar- assisted check-in and bag drop solution.

"We are fast becoming the dominant provider of automated check-in and bag drop throughout Asia/Pacific and this is another step in making the experience more user friendly for passengers, and streamlining the speed of throughput at airports by utilising technology better.

"We partnered with Air New Zealand back in 2007 when they first developed their revolutionary check-in system, and have continued to evolve and innovate the solution to the point that we have now taken it global. This is another testament to Kiwi innovation leading the world: another great NZ innovation that could change the whole airport travel experience."

Limbic is in negotiation with a number of other partners to use its technology in a range of sectors from medicine and aged care to security and education.

Dr Sagar says the company's technology is complex and visionary, with enormous potential to change the way people interact with equipment, systems and processes.

"Working with BCS, which shares our vision for the future experience of human - computer interactions, gives us a highly visible opportunity to demonstrate the significant potential of our technology and showcase what it can do to a broad audience."


Who is Limbic Limbic is pioneering the application of neurobehavioral animation that combines biologically based models of faces and neural systems to create live, naturally intelligent, and highly expressive interactive systems. To do this we are building a team of internal experts and strong relationships with industry and academic partners.

About BCS BCS employs over 400 people at its several locations around the world. The company delivers end to end solutions consisting of logistics hardware, automation controls and elegant software products that have made BCS supplier of choice to airports, airlines, freight and industrial customers around the world. BCS business breaks into three business units: Airport Systems, Operations and Maintenance and the newest business unit Services and Solutions (SaS).

About Mark Sagar Mark Sagar is the director of the ml Laboratory for Animate Technologies based at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. The laboratory is creating interactive autonomously animated systems which will help define the next generation of human-computer interaction and facial animation. Academy Award winner Associate Professor Sagar previously worked as the Special Projects Supervisor at Weta Digital. He was involved with the creation of technology for the digital characters in blockbusters such Avatar, King Kong, and Spiderman 2. His pioneering work in computer-generated faces was recognised with two consecutive Oscars at the 2010 and 2011 Sci-tech awards, a branch of the Academy Awards that recognises movie science and technological achievements. In 2013 Mark co-founded Limbic IO Limited to commercialise the research he is developing at the University of Auckland.

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