My name is Václav Laurin and I’m here to chat

My name is Václav Laurin and I’m here to chat

If you want to learn more about the early days of the Škoda brand, who better to tell you than one of the founders, Václav Laurin? And soon he’ll be able to tell you a lot more.

16. 4. 2024 Škoda World

The new virtual avatar, who is now spending the first few weeks of his life in the Škoda Museum, will be happy to tell you something about the time when today’s global car company was taking its first steps in manufacturing. In the future, though, you’ll be able to have a proper conversation with him, asking him questions and maybe even sharing a joke together. The AI avatar is one of the newest additions to the Škodaverse initiative that’s based on exploring new technologies and pushing the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.

DSC9938_1000x1000_c1bb65e0Tereza Pluhařová
project manager for Web3 & Metaverse

So what does such an encounter with a virtual Václav Laurin look like now? “You go up to him, tap the screen and he starts telling you about how he and Václav Klement founded the company, how they made their first bicycles or how they developed their first car, the Voiturette A,” explains Tereza Pluhařová, a project manager for Web3 & Metaverse. “When he’s told you his story, he’ll test you in an interactive quiz to see how much you remember. If you get enough questions right, you can receive a NFT digital token on blockchain that serves as digital proof that you’ve met the founder of the Škoda brand,” Pluhařová adds.

DSC9853_725910b6Virtual avatar of Václav Laurin in the Škoda Museum

A bridge between past and future

Technology is evolving at a tremendous pace, and it’s so flexible that things that were recently developed in isolation can now be connected and combined in all sorts of ways. An example of this is an avatar of a real historical figure that can be hooked up to a language generator and easily and quickly populated with the information it can then pass on in a wide range of languages. 

DSC9907_d71c8925At the end of visitors’ encounter with the virtual Václav Laurin they are given a quiz with the chance to win a unique NFT.

“We wanted to take advantage of this technological leap and we were looking for a way to explore out the technology’s potential. It occurred to us that we could present the history of the company in an engaging way to appeal to the younger generation. Václav Laurin was an obvious choice as a historic figure, innovator and founder who played a key role in the brand’s story. We know about his life and what he looked like, so his avatar version is a wonderful way to build a bridge between the past and the future,” says Luca Zicconi, Web3 & Metaverse lead at Škoda.

DSC9941_1000x1000_35fad461Luca Zicconi
Web3 & Metaverse lead at Škoda

Next time we’ll have a proper chat

And that’s not all. The developers are already working on the next development stage, which will be even more interactive. “In the next version, Václav Laurin will be able to listen to you, understand what you’re saying and have a conversation with you on a range of topics. This version will be based on the same Metahuman 3D model technology developed by Epic Games, the company behind the famous Fortnite game.

What will be different, though, is that it will use generative AI and large language model (LLM) technology, such as ChatGPT, which will be trained for specific environments and purposes. If you meet the avatar in the museum, he will know what exhibits you can see in which rooms. And if we take him to the Tour de France, say, he’ll know the details of all the stages and riders, so he’ll be able to tell you who crossed the finish line in which place the previous day. It’s also important that it can respond appropriately to more intrusive and even provocative questions. The idea is therefore to turn an anonymous artificial intelligence into an intelligence that is tailor-made for the Škoda brand and is ready to support the company at our events and trade fairs, and basically everywhere the customer comes into contact with the brand,” Zicconi explains, outlining the plans for the avatar’s future.