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Cardiff KTP wins ‘Innovation of the Year’

19 March 2021

A next generation AI avatar assistant developed through a Cardiff University KTP has won the ‘Innovation of the Year’ award at the OTCToolbox Consumer Healthcare Industry (CHi) Awards 2021.

Created with help from five computer science experts at Cardiff University over four years in partnership with Orbital Global, VirtTuri® is trained to address a range of frequently asked questions around a patient’s ailment.

Designed for use on a brand’s website, app, or social media, VirtTuri® can answer FAQs involving a particular ailment, help with a product’s patient information leaflet, and assist with immediate actions. Thanks to machine learning, its accuracy improves with every use.

Judges were impressed by its ability to manage pharmacovigilance and report adverse events. They noted VirtTuri® aligns with Covid-19 restrictions ‘where online virtual chat functions are becoming increasingly necessary due to limits on personal interaction and more widely accepted by consumers.’

David Marshall,Professor of Computer Vision in Cardiff’s School of Computer Science and Informatics said: “We are delighted to have played our part in Orbital Global’s award. Our team worked to develop the visual avatar aspect of VirtTuri®, which integrated with the natural language interface developed with the University of Essex — a perfect industry-academic collaboration.

“The visual avatar was developed by taking video (a face and shoulders talking head) and audio (speech) of person and learning the correlation between the speech and video. We then synthesised new video from input audio only, allowing cheap scaling up of video generation from the natural language engine.

“We also discovered that we are able to generate person-specific realistic audio speech from text. We were lucky enough attract an outstanding KTP associate. Based at Orbital Global, their work was integral to developing the idea in collaboration with the team.”

During the project, Orbital Global’s extensive health service and healthcare industry contacts provided feedback to develop the technology.

Peter Brady, chief executive at Orbital Global, said: ‘We are extremely proud of VirtTuri® and know it performs brilliantly well, having already been adopted and rigorously tested by leading consumer healthcare brands, Sudocrem and Infacol. The technology is now ready for extensive rollout to the consumer healthcare industry, which is hugely exciting.

‘Artificial intelligence is one of the most important technologies of the 21st Century. It is already impacting our daily lives and will continue to do so in the future. With this in mind, we are constantly innovating and plan to enhance VirtTuri® even further, with the development of a patented visual avatar component later this year.’

VirtTuri® was showcased at the inaugural AI Festival earlier this year.

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