February 20, 2024

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By: Mohd Fadthul Ikmal Misnal

JOHOR BAHRU, 13 February – When you visit Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), chances are, D.I.A.N.A will greet you with “Hello sir, may I help you?”

D.I.A.N.A is UTM’s real time-hologram avatar, programmed and trained as a virtual assistant. Her capabilities include interacting with humans via spoken natural language, understanding what users say and responding to them meaningfully. D.I.A.N.A was first showcased at UTM Research Open Day on 6th February 2023, during the visit by the Minister of Higher Education, YB Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

D.I.A.N.A was first showcased at UTM Research Open Day during the visit by the Minister of Higher Education, YB Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. Image by UTM ViCubeLab Research Group.

“D.I.A.N.A stands for Digital Security and Social Intelligent Assistant. She is a virtual female human-like avatar with our local Malaysian identity appearance. Furthermore, she can promote our unique Malaysian culture and have the potential to become our digital ambassador,” said one of the project leaders, Dr Ajune Wanis Ismail.

“DIANA is a hologram assistant that can be programmed to know whatever we intend her to have. Equipped with the AI brain and human-like speech with the help of the Natural Language Processing technique, the first version D.I.A.N.A (D.I.A.N.A 1.0) can interact and answer questions related to UTM, ” added Dr Ajune.

D.I.A.N.A – UTM’s trained and programmed virtual assistant in the form of a real-time hologram avatar. Image by UTM ViCubeLab Research Group.

“She is equipped with the facts about UTM, making her considered a UTM brand persona in the digital version. With her ability to think and act like humans, one day, she may become our virtual assistant and loyal companion.

“In the form of mobile apps, D.I.A.N.A can benefit users as a protector and educator towards a safer society in the digital world.

D.I.A.N.A. in the form of mobile apps. Image by UTM ViCubeLab Research Group.

“To ensure DIANA can reach out to people at all levels, besides hologram technology, we have also deployed Augmented Reality (AR) technology so that D.I.A.N.A can pop up on smartphone screens. The AR-based DIANA has the same ability as our hologram.

This first version of D.I.A.N.A was developed by Dr Ajune Wanis Ismail and her technical teams from Mixed and Virtual Environment Research Lab (Mivielab), subsets in UTM ViCubeLab Research Group from the Faculty of Computing. Other UTM scholars involved are Dr Norhaida Mohd Suaib and Dr Md. Sah Hj. Salam from UTM ViCubeLab Research Group.

D.I.A.N.A. was funded by the UTMICONIC programme, led by Assoc. Prof. Dr Anazida Zainal with Dr Ajune Wanis being one of the project leaders covering the front-end hologram system and its core engine. Another significant technical insight involves appointed Project Leaders, Dr Fo’ad Rohani and Prof. Dr Hamdan Said.

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