Marketing Report
Blended agency iO brings the Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ digital twin to life with AI

Blended agency iO brings the Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ digital twin to life with AI

APICA (Advanced Port Information and Control Assistant) was launched in early 2022. Now, the avatar representing the digital twin has gotten a new outfit, warmer voice, and friendlier facial expression and speaks as many as 100 languages.

Thanks to a digital network of drones, sensors, and cameras, APICA helps port workers work smoothly and safely. It provides real-time weather information, disseminates data on air quality and automatically contacts safety advisers in case of incidents. In the future, APICA can also prevent dangerous situations by combining historical data with AI.

APICA has long been known among port employees, but towards outsiders - such as residents and foreign delegations - the digital twin could use a recognisable face. That is why Port of Antwerp-Bruges asked blended agency iO to make APICA more human and brush up on its language skills.

First, the AI specialised in still-image generation created a wide range of synthetic characters, from which Port of Antwerp-Bruges chose an open, friendly face.

New outfit

Chosen was a second, still experimental AI from OpenAI. Partly because iO colleague Rodger Werkhoven advised OpenAI as an independent Creative Director in the development of their Dall-E 2 AI, he and his team from iO could work on Dall-E Experimental. A design was chosen to symbolise APICA's artificial origins. Also, to help people not confuse APICA with a flesh-and-blood human.

The final phase was how to bring APICA to life and deciding how her synthetic voice would sound like.

To this end, a third Artificial Intelligence was chosen from AI developer D-ID. This AI is trained on the human face's behaviour and the human voice's sound in interpersonal communication. iO's Rodger Werkhoven also assisted D-ID as a creative advisor, resulting in a unique AI tool that allows Port of Antwerp-Bruges to bring the personification of their APICA to life finally. Not just in motion but also in speech. APICA speaks no less than a hundred languages, accent-free! For the time being, it works using text-to-speech technology, but should this become relevant for Port of Antwerp-Bruges, then APICA can also enter a question-and-answer dialogue with people directly. ​

AI-Avatar APICA has already been engaged at the Flemish Port Day (7 May) and Transport Logistic in Munich (9 to 12 May). From now on, it will also explain port-related issues in a simple, tangible way at events and presentations at home and abroad.