VisitMalta.com Launches an Industry-First Virtual Citizen

Today VisitMalta.com launched an industry-first virtual citizen project. Their first citizen is named Marija and represents a typical Maltese woman who has all the answers to visitors’ questions about the island’s history and locations. Marija will bring together, in perfect synergy, the infinite possibilities of artificial intelligence, incorporating them with a new immersive experience allowing everyone to access a wealth of information about Malta.

Marija Is an Industry First: A Resident of Malta That Exists Only in Digital Form

But that doesn’t mean that she is a flat, robotic being with no personality. Marija was intentionally created with traits common to human residents of Malta, including physical characteristics and features typical of the Mediterranean region. She was also given an ancestry that dates back to the time of the Knights of St. John and the British Colonial rule.

Marija is a mix of art and science built through a meticulous, creative process. VisitMalta, in collaboration with Reimagine AI, created hundreds of 2D AI-generated models that were narrowed down to a single image. This image was then brought to life in 3D to have Marija look like a typical Maltese woman, with characteristics and features associated with the Mediterranean region.

As reported by BSN, Marija will be capable of interacting with tourists much like a human would – and in real time. She can answer any question concerning Maltese history, offer directions, and even throw in a joke or two when the situation is appropriate.

“Malta is truly a visionary country. It is a great destination for leisure, fun, business, and innovation. This project was a great testament to the country’s vision and implementation of a solid national digital strategy. We are proud to have worked closely with VisitMalta in creating Marija, a purpose-driven and socially interactive AI-powered virtual being we believe will continue establishing Malta as a true next-generation visitor experience destination. We build the interface between AI and the human experience, and we are incredibly excited to help Marija continue to learn and evolve. Marija is the perfect medium to tell the Maltese story and connect in a meaningful way with everyone who comes in contact with her. AI is the future of storytelling, and Malta is at the forefront of it all.” Says David Usher, President of Reimagine.AI 

The language was also crucial in the development process. A specific lexicon system was custom-built to consider the pronunciation of Maltese words and the particularities of the vocabulary that are synonymous with a typical Maltese conversation. Marija’s neural synthesized voice, which speaks English with a Maltese accent, is based on the voice of a Maltese content creator who recorded many hours of dialogue, and from those recordings, an AI duplicate voice was created.

This voice now lives on independently from the original recordings and can vocalize any new information Marija needs to learn and say in the future.

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