Portalis.AI aims to alter AI-human interaction with customizable digital avatars

Key Takeaways:

– Portalis.AI has emerged from stealth mode to unveil its avatars that enhance interaction and communication between humans and AI.
– The startup has created AI characters that can hold conversations with users through lifelike and fully interactive digital avatars.
– Portalis.AI aims to empower creators to design, personalize, share, and engage with AI-powered digital avatars with voice, video, and memory capabilities.
– The company is founded by serial entrepreneurs Todd Coleman and Josef Hall, known for their success with game companies such as Wizard101.
– Portalis.AI brings to life articulate avatars with customizable looks, voices, environments, animations, personalities, and knowledge.
– The platform uses a custom scripting language called MIL code to enable complex behaviors and interactions.
– The innovation lies in delivering natural and seamless interaction with AI characters, allowing users to converse with avatars in real-time.
– The platform has potential applications in enterprise, education, and entertainment.
– Creators can sign up for early access testing on the Portalis.AI platform to craft AI avatars and script their activities.
– The company has successfully closed a seed funding round with investments from industry luminaries.
– The company aims to extend human creativity using AI and find a balance between offloading work and not replacing artists entirely.

VentureBeat:


Portalis.AI has emerged from stealth mode to unveil its avatars that are aimed at enhancing interaction and communication between humans and AI.

The Austin, Texas-based startup has created AI characters who can hold a conversation with you as well as their lifelike, fully interactive, and animated digital avatars.

With the world increasingly intertwined with AI and digital beings, Portalis.AI is creating a platform that empowers creators to design, personalize, share, and engage with AI-powered digital avatars, complete with integrated voice, video, and memory capabilities – a significant leap beyond the chat-based avatars available today, said Todd Coleman, cofounder of Portalis.AI, in an interview with GamesBeat.

The company is the brainchild of serial entrepreneurs Coleman and Josef Hall, who had a lot of success with prior game companies. The duo is known for their pioneering work in the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game MMORPG genre, notably the creation of the immensely popular MMORPG franchise Wizard101 for KingsIsle Entertainment. The franchise was later acquired by Gamigo/Media & Games Invest in 2021 for over $200 million and continues to be enjoyed by millions worldwide.

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From the team that brought us Wizard 101 comes Portalis.AI.

Coleman was also behind the team that created Crowfall, which was a new MMO that debuted in 2021. Coleman’s company, Artcraft, was acquired by Monumental, which then shut down Crowfall in 2022. After that happened, Coleman started investigating AI.

“I felt like I needed a break from MMOs. I heard a podcast about AI. I thought this was really fascinating. And I mentioned it to Joseph our CTO. And I mentioned to him how I thought this stuff was really interesting. And I bought a book on AI. I couldn’t understand it at all,” Coleman said.

They went through a couple of AI training programs at the University of Texas at Austin and Carnegie Mellon University so they could understand it better. That set them up for Portalis.AI. They started the company and then the generative AI boom started.

“We thought there was a really interesting intersection between game technology and AI technology,” Coleman said. “A lot of the game companies hadn’t really looked deeply into it as we had. And the AI companies didn’t have the background and skills with our timeline, character, modeling texturing, all that. So we thought that would be really interesting opportunities where we were looking.”

A kind of dungeon master will hold conversations with you via Portalis.AI.

Portalis.AI brings to life articulate, fully-animated avatars with customizable looks, voices, environments, animations, personalities, and knowledge. These avatars can converse, remember previous interactions, and even simulate their own lives between chat sessions.

To enable this level of interactivity, Portalis.AI has developed a custom scripting language called MIL code (Model Injection Language) to transcend the limitations of existing large language model (LLM) prompting. Creators will have the ability to effortlessly script complex behaviors, interactions, and use cases, ranging from interactive FAQs and customer service agents to interactive fiction and role-playing.

What sets Portalis.AI apart is its commitment to delivering a natural and seamless interaction with AI characters, Coleman said. Users can simply converse with these avatars, and the AI character listens and responds in real-time. This innovation holds vast potential for enterprise applications, educational use, and, of course, entertainment.

A noir AI character from Portalis.AI.

“The true innovation with the Portalis.AI platform is how we bring our characters to life with interactions as natural as a Zoom call with a friend,” Coleman said. “There is no typing; you simply talk, and the AI character listens and responds in real time. We see enormous potential in enterprise, education, and of course in entertainment. Our priority was to shift creativity back to the creator – the AI isn’t crafting the experience; the creator is. Our goal is to use AI to extend human creativity, not to replace it.”

Creators interested in experiencing this technology can sign up for early access testing on the Portalis.AI platform. The platform enables creators to craft AI avatars by selecting their appearance, voice, background story, personality, and scripting “activities” for them to engage in.

The resulting AI characters can be kept private, shared with friends and family, or eventually added to a public catalog. Enterprise customers can embed an AI character as an interactive FAQ, customer support representative, or brand ambassador by placing a simple “click-to-call” widget on their website.

In recent developments, Portalis.AI successfully closed a seed funding round with investments from industry luminaries, including Mike Wilson (co-founder of Godgames and Devolver Digital) and Robert Steffens (co-president of Marvel Entertainment).

An AI character named Daphne.

The company also welcomed investor and entrepreneur Dan Graham as its COO. Graham was previously the cofounder and CEO of BuildASign, which was acquired by Vistaprint in 2018.

The word “portalis” was Latin for portal.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a conversation with Buzz Lightyear,” Coleman said.

They started the company in January and started working on both the AI technology and the avatars that were more like Pixar quality avatars. They have eight people now.

Coleman did a demo of a conversation with Alan, an alien character. It talked about how it found Halloween to be a fascinating human tradition on Earth. Coleman figured these avatars could have chats with you on FaceTime or Zoom. Another character was like a dungeon master.

Another demo was murder mystery, but it wasn’t created by generative AI. Rather, it was something that Coleman wrote. Game makers can take these kinds of characters and run with them, bringing much better character interaction to games, Coleman said.

But the bigger opportunity for the company is in providing avatars for enterprise customer service or receptionists, he said. Education will also be a huge market over time. You could have a conversation with Mark Twain for history or with a multilingual expert who could teach you just about any subject.

“That’s the direction we are headed,” Coleman said.

But the company also wants to find a balanced point where AI can offload work but not replace artists altogether. While the tech is fascinating, we can approach with a sense of ethics, he said. The trick is to find something that is more human yet doesn’t use up a ton of computing response time.

“I’m trying to strike that balance,” he said.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

Portalis.AI, a startup based in Austin, Texas, has emerged from stealth mode to introduce its AI avatars designed to enhance interaction and communication between humans and AI. The company’s AI characters can hold conversations with users through lifelike, fully interactive, and animated digital avatars. The platform allows creators to design, personalize, share, and engage with AI-powered digital avatars, equipped with voice, video, and memory capabilities. Portalis.AI aims to go beyond the current chat-based avatars available in the market. The company was founded by Todd Coleman and Josef Hall, serial entrepreneurs known for their success in the gaming industry, particularly for creating the popular MMORPG franchise Wizard101. Portalis.AI’s technology offers vast potential for enterprise, education, and entertainment applications. The company recently closed a seed funding round with investments from industry veterans, including Mike Wilson and Robert Steffens, and welcomed Dan Graham as its COO.