Wanna Chat with an Ancestor? Try Emulate Me

Before you throw something at me for asking such a dumb question, because the ancestors you would wish to chat with have been deceased for over 100 years, please read the following interview. I have discovered some new exciting technology that blends audio, video, text, and Artificial Intelligence that provides Avatars that you can chat with. I have tried it myself and it is astounding.

The company and its products are called Almaya and EmulateMe. The links to the website are at the end of the article. There is a free version where you can try out the product and build your own Avatars. I interviewed the CEO, and the information is below.

1.  What prompted you and your team to create Almaya and EmulateMe?

When a person passes away, an entire world of stories, life lessons, humor, and wisdom disappears with them. We are on a mission to ensure that the human experience is securely preserved for current and future generations.

Our team is composed of history and genealogy enthusiasts, aiming to create amazing experiences that make it easier to understand who we are, where we come from, and to pass on our life story and lessons to future generations. We strongly believe that with technology, we can help our community live better by making information about our ancestors more accessible and preserving our own in an interactive way.

2.  What are the differences between Amaya and EmulateMe?

Almaya is an autobiography builder app that empowers users to easily record their life’s story and engage in a game-like experience by answering questions and prompts about their lives. While completing the suggested chapters, users receive beautiful Video-books to share with their family. Almaya also includes an AI-powered chat (ALMA) that guides friends and family members to interact with the storyteller by asking questions and receiving their answers.

EmulateMe is a tool to create a Smart Avatar that reflects how a person looks, sounds, and responds to almost any question. It’s used by people to interact with their ancestors, for whom there is information available. By uploading digital assets and connecting different sources of information, you can chat with the Smart Avatar and engage in a realistic conversation.

3.  Since EmulateMe allows the user to Chat with an ancestor, what can be done for ancestors where you do not have an audio file of their voice?

EmulateMe provides a variety of voice samples for users to choose from, allowing them to select the one that closely resembles the accent and nationality of their ancestors. Additionally, users have the option to record their own voice or someone else’s to clone and use it to represent their ancestors.

4.  Since many ancestors possibly immigrated to their current country, would it be possible to add accents and dialects? For example, my favorite ancestor died over 110 years ago, so I never met him and do not have an audio file of his voice. He immigrated to the U.S. from Germany at age 15 from Germany, He spoke English with a strong German accent I suspect. Could that kind of feature be added?

In case you don’t have a voice clip of your ancestor, in the current version, the best way to create a realistic accent is to upload a similar one, such as a German Old Man Voice clip. Then, you can chat with your Avatar in English, and their voice response will be in English with a German accent.

The EmulateMe team is currently working on adding this feature to the platform.

5. What is a smart avatar?

A Smart Avatar is a digital representation of a person. It is not the person per se, but it mimics what the person would say, their tone, and their face, depending on the information uploaded. At EmulateMe, our belief is that new technologies should be embraced and optimized, but not without ethical considerations. Our development process involves taking necessary precautions to reduce the possibility of harmful exploitation. We are fully dedicated to upholding intellectual property rights and taking action against any misuse.

6.  What kind of information do Amaya and Emulate.me need from me to populate the life story of the person I am working on?

To create a realistic video of the Smart Avatar, you need at least one photo, one voice clip, and a script detailing what you want the Avatar to say.

For chatting, you’ll need to train it using one of two options:

a) Answer questions about the person in EmulateMe

b) Upload any text document related to the person, such as a biography, letter, etc.

If you’re connected to your FamilySearch account, the Avatar will automatically be trained with basic information, such as facts, when importing a family member. Users can also choose to import other text documents uploaded in the family member’s account.

7.  You are connected with FamilySearch. How does that work? What information can be downloaded from FamilySearch?

EmulateMe is an affiliated organization of FamilySearch, which means that we are part of their Solutions Gallery.

While creating your EmulateMe account using your FamilySearch account, you can bring your family tree to life. The user can select any family member or search for a person using their FamilySearch ID to import information such as photos, voice clips, and documents.

In just a few simple steps, you can easily engage in a conversation with an ancestor and inquire about anything, like ‘Where were you born?’ You will not only receive their answers in text but also in a voice note or video, depending on the imported information.

This offers a completely new experience to connect with our family roots, interact with information in a family tree, and ultimately, gain a better understanding of who we are.

8.  What are the advantages of a subscription?

When creating your account on EmulateMe, you receive free trial credits to try out the platform. In case you run out of credits, the user can subscribe to a plan starting at $5/month to get a bulk of credits for scripting and/or chatting with an Avatar.

To access these two products and try out the Free version, go to EmulateMe or Almaya

If you choose to subscribe after checking these two exciting products out, do yourself a favor and save 10% on the subscription fee by entering TAH10 when paying for the subscription.

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