Bored of Zoom Meetings? Build a Digital Clone to Attend for You

The COVID-19 pandemic means a lot more video meetings than usual, often using Zoom. Bored with having to be on so many Zoom calls, creative technologist Matt Reed decided to build an AI-powered clone named Zoombot to handle the meetings for him

Digital Speaker

“[M]y number of Zoom meetings have gone through the mesosphere and is currently on Mars,” Reed wrote in a blog post about the project. “There’s barely even time for bio-breaks, Reddit, or actually getting work done. It’s as if Zoom has turned into the Oasis from Ready Player One where everyone spends every waking hour of their day inside.”

To help take up the duty of sitting in on so many conference calls, Reed designed Zoombot to use speech recognition and text-to-speech to respond to his colleagues. The digital clone responds with, “I’m doing great thank you for asking,” when asked, “How are you?” for instance, along with several other questions and statements. The video rotates through several images of Reed in front of his computer, making it seem like he has a bad connection. Reed didn’t think it would fool anyone for long, but he didn’t tell his coworkers about Zoombot ahead of time, and you can see their reactions in the video at the top.

Send in the Clones

To create the speech recognition and response system, Reed used Artyom.js, a library of tools for that purpose. Artyom can detect key terms and match them to responses in its program. Unlike a standard voice assistant, it doesn’t require a wake word to activate, just the key phrases it will respond to. Reed is sharing Zoombot with the world for free on GitHub, so the next time you have a Zoom conference call, if someone seems more robotic than usual, it may be only their digital clone that they’ve sent to the meeting in their place.

“As it turns out, cloning oneself is actually much easier than Westworld™ would lead you to believe,” Reed wrote. “Now just crank up those speakers, fire up Zoombot, and freely go forth and enjoy all those other things you’d rather be doing than sitting on video conferences all day. Just think, you could go play with the birds in your backyard, stare at your dog, make a fun smoothie, the possibilities are [in]finite.”


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