Soul Machines and Microsoft Partnership the ultimate digital brains trust

 |   Lucy Smith

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Kiwi “human technology” innovator Soul Machines has captured imaginations with its life-like Digital People, which feature everywhere from movie screens to online health websites. In 2021 it partnered with Microsoft to take machine learning in totally new directions, combining some of the greatest minds in ethical AI.  

Now, Soul Machines is also reaching new markets and customers thanks to the new Scaling SaaS Exports Initiative, with Microsoft not only helping to literally bring its products to life, but also helping to sell them on a global scale. Together, both companies are working to create wins for Digital People and everyday humans alike.  

Creating hyper realistic, emotionally responsive and autonomously animated digital people sounds like something out of a movie…And technically, it is. Soul Machines, founded in 2016 by serial tech entrepreneur Greg Cross and double Academy Award winner Mark Sagar, is a business born from the technology developed to bring digital characters to life in blockbuster movies such as Avatar, King Kong and Spider Man 2. 

Since then, it’s been developing a new generation of AI systems to help redefine customer and brand experiences. Using its Human OS Platform and Digital Brain, Soul Machines has been creating life-like 3D digital people who can engage and emotionally connect with customers, with the added bonus of being metaverse-ready. From introducing fans around the world to their favourite sports or TV stars to providing empathetic customer experiences, Soul Machines is leading the way when it comes to brand engagement and customer experience. 

Creating a global Digital Brains trust 

In 2021, Soul Machines and Microsoft announced their new partnership, which saw Soul Machines choose Azure to build its main stack on so it could continue to develop, innovate, scale and grow. Looking for more than a vendor of AI and cloud services, Soul Machines wanted a tech partner who could help accelerate its growth in global markets, as well as support it with ongoing research and development.   

“We were looking for an organisation to work with that we could collaborate openly with about our innovative plans and one where we could work alongside each other to help support and grow each other’s businesses,” said Hilary O’Connor, Soul Machines’ Vice President of Channel Partnerships. 

“Microsoft is a longstanding, trusted organisation with an established marketplace that has global reach.  By partnering with Microsoft, we can start to leverage a whole new network of global customer relationships, whilst making full use of Microsoft’s services ourselves.”  


Sharing a common vision to create innovative new solutions that help people across the globe, both Microsoft and Soul Machines are a prime example of how interactive and innovative the tech ecosystem can be. They have been in deep collaboration working on a joint go-to-market solution through IP Co-sell, starting with the US.   

Microsoft is working with Soul Machines not just to develop their products, but to sell them too. Since migrating Soul Machines’ applications to Microsoft Azure, the two companies are collaborating on new products that take the use of AI in entirely new directions. From a digital workforce that delivers the future of customer experience to digital twins of celebrities that enable more fans around the world to engage with their heroes, accessible healthcare assistants and a fully immersive virtual metaverse where children can interact with their favourite toys and book characters, the possibilities are endless.   

Soul Machines has already developed celebrity Digital Twins of entertainer and singer, NBA All-Star and entrepreneur Carmelo Anthony, and pro golfer Jack Nicklaus, as well as creating Digital People to deliver highly personalised brand experiences for Nestle, Toll House, P&G, Twitch, The World Health Organization, The Pan American Health Organization and more. Digital People add a uniquely immersive element to human interaction which can elevate customer experiences in the metaverse and all digital worlds. 

“The AI-powered 3D Digital People can move and interact with on-screen content, delivering highly personalised, engaging, and empathetic experiences in real time thanks to Azure,” said Mrs O’Connor. 

“Brands are starting to realise the benefits of using 3D celebrity avatars too, especially when it comes to increasing engagement and loyalty levels, helping to broaden their reach. Thanks to the IP Co-sell agreement with Microsoft, we are now demonstrating first-hand how Digital People can help even more organisations.” 


Taking on the world 

Microsoft’s recently-launched Scaling SaaS Export Initiative aims to help the New Zealand tech industry overcome the “scaling challenge” to reach new markets overseas. Microsoft is moving away from being just a technology provider with a network of resellers, to becoming a reseller for its partners too.  

Leveraging its vast global networks, Microsoft has been helping Soul Machines open doors and build relationships with new customers in the US retail sector and further abroad. With many businesses experiencing significant staffing challenges in today’s post-COVID world, Digital People are in demand. 

“Organisations across the globe are looking for ways to improve their customer experiences, whether it be for a patient, a passenger, a client, citizen or guest.  Our Digital People enable empathetic customer engagement, resulting in a more authentic customer experience,” said Hillary O’Connor. 

“Through our partnership with Microsoft, we have already been introduced to a number of very exciting organisations to collaborate with including some of the most-renowned companies in the US.” 

With Microsoft and Soul Machines signing a strategic partnership, as well as being an IP Co-Sell partner, it now has a transactable offer on Azure Marketplace making it easy for customers to purchase a Digital Person and even draw down on existing Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitments (MACC). 

Meanwhile, the Soul Machines team has been working with Microsoft to provide access to fully customisable Digital People to use when collaborating with Microsoft’s partners and customers. Using Soul Machines Digital DNA studio Microsoft has access to build a customised demo in minutes. 

Selecting from a variety of options to update how the Digital Person looks, the Microsoft team also has the ability to select its language, voice and include a digital logo. Connecting to a conversation created using Azure Bot Service, the team is able to customise and demonstrate how Digital People can be utilised to provide a more personalised customer experience. 


An exciting future ahead 

Both Soul Machines and Microsoft are excited for the future. 

“We were delighted when Soul Machines chose to partner with us, as they were the perfect example of how deep connections can be built through openness and collaboration in the tech industry,” said Matt Bostwick, Microsoft Partner Lead.   

“By understanding each other’s businesses and goals better, we’ve been able to work together to help build their stack in a way that is easily scalable across global markets, and assist with their growth by introducing new connections throughout our international networks. Not to mention pushing the envelope of machine learning and cognitive services together. We’re just getting started.”