An Australian upstart on Monday introduced MyCyberTwin, an early version of software that lets people create and customize a virtual personality that can chat with others while they're offline. Liesl Capper, co-founder of RelevanceNow, which built MyCyberTwin, said the so-called chat bot technology can be used on blogs, dating sites or in social networks like MySpace by cutting and pasting code from the site onto the third-party page.
Capper describes the software as an extension of your personality online. "It can talk to friends when you're sleeping or tell people where the party is Saturday night," she said.
Virtual personalities are not new, but MyCybertwin could take the trend of instant-messaging avatars like Yahoo's and Second Life personas in a new direction.
The MyCybertwin service lets people pick one of five basic personalities, such as "warm-hearted, intellectual" or "cheeky, down to earth," and then have that choice act as a chat proxy to friends or strangers. But a subscriber can also tailor their persona further by answering a set of psychological questions, like "Is success a motivator for you?" giving the chat bot more complexity.
RelevanceNow has built tools to evaluate a person's psychographics, which classify attitudes and values, likes and dislikes. The more information the software has, the more "personality" the chat bot will have.
People also can write out answers to commonly asked questions so that their chat bot will respond in that manner, or they can prompt a cybertwin to ask specific questions of others, such as "What is the most important thing in your life?" People can review their friend's answers by looking in the log that MyCyberTwin keeps of all conversations. Capper said the service can also handle FAQs for bloggers, company brands or other well-known people who maintain a Web site.
"Sites and bloggers will want them so that people can learn about them when they're away. And companies can learn about customers without having direct conversations," Capper said.