Mark Sagar is the CEO and co-founder of Soul Machines, and director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute. The laboratory is creating interactive autonomously animated systems which will help define the next generation of human-computer interaction and facial animation.
Mark’s work is pioneering new more humanlike ways in which we relate to technology and AI. His work developing new technologies to humanise artificial intelligence is internationally recognised.
Soul Machines creates emotionally intelligent, lifelike avatars (or, as it prefers to call them, ‘digital humans’) that act as a visual interface for customer service chatbots, virtual assistants and a host of other practical uses.
In another life, Mark was the Special Projects Supervisor at Weta Digital. He was involved with the creation of technology for the digital characters in blockbusters such Avatar, King Kong, and Spiderman 2 for which he won two Academy Awards.
Mark studied a Bachelor of Science and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Auckland and was a post-doctoral fellow at M.I.T. His postgraduate research involved a landmark study in how to develop an anatomically correct virtual eye and realistic models of biomechanically simulated anatomy. It was one of the first examples of how lifelike human features could be created on a screen by combining computer graphics with mathematics and human physiology.
For his work, Mark is a recipient of the University of Auckland’s Distinguished Alumni Award.