July 25, 2019 By Andy Barnes 4 min read

People spend 87% of their time in buildings.Increasingly, we expect our buildings to act like our homes, complete with a consumer-grade technology. For example, U.K.-based Juniper Research estimates that there will be 8 billion voice and AI assistants in use by 2023, with 3.25 billion already at our disposal.

With Sarah, building operators have an AI-driven assistant than can help them create differentiated experiences for visitors, users and employees.


That’s why now is the perfect time to introduce you to Sarah. She’s the new building virtual assistant and digital concierge from IBM Watson IoT and Quantum Capture. Sarah knows about your building, its occupants and facilities.  She is always there to help your visitors, temporary and regular employees understand, interact with and navigate their workplace.

Making her debut at the IBM IoT Exchange in Orlando Florida, Sarah has since been travelling the world, impressing IBM clients and business partners at events in London, Paris, Berlin and Sydney.

Bringing AI to an office near you

It might seem like a novelty, but Sarah is bringing needed AI-based assistance to the workplace. With Sarah, organizations can free up staff from mundane tasks and drive more operational efficiency, For example, Sarah can address one of the most frustrating tasks of office life: checking the availability of meeting rooms. She can then reserve either now or at a future date/time. She can also find rooms based on your requirements, such as in a particular building or on a specific floor, for a certain number of occupants and/or room capabilities.

Beyond the scheduling, Sarah can help you order food and drink for the meeting. If something is wrong with a room or area in the building, Sarah can be used to raise service orders. After all, it’s not always intuitive on how to actually submit service tickets. But Sarah offers an easy-to-use voice interface to resolve building issues, such as broken chairs or spilt drinks. If you’re lost, Sarah can give direction to rooms or people. She can also make general conversation about a building/campus and its facilities. She can even entertain you with jokes, engage in chit-chat, and tell you about the company and provide a background about your business, site and history.

How the AI assistant actually works

We call her Sarah, but her formal name is the IBM TRIRIGA Assistant. She seamlessly integrates the capabilities of IBM watsonx Assistant, IBM Cloud Functions (IBM CF) and IBM TRIRIGA. It’s all deployed on the IBM Cloud, to surface a natural language, artificial Intelligence (AI) based digital avatar.

The avatar herself is powered by Quantum Capture’s unique virtual human technology. Quantum Capture brings AI to life with virtual human avatars capable of two-way conversations and dynamic body gestures. This experience allows visitors to interact with an anthropomorphic, human-like assistant. It’s all designed to enhance customer satisfaction and engagement, and deliver a leading-edge workplace experience.

Sarah is one of many possible manifestations of a digital avatar that can sit front and centre in your facility. She can also reside quietly on employee mobile phones to be used on demand when questions arise.

She provides a comprehensive multi-modal experience, transcribing her voice responses onto the screen for accessibility and increased comprehension.  She can supplement spoken/transcribed responses with images such as floor plans from IBM TRIRGA, a business logos or anything that requires a complementary visualization.

The avatar can be rapidly switched with a different “off the shelf” avatar. That allows you to change gender, age, ethnicity, clothing and background to a pre-defined selection. You also have the option of creating a fully customisable option to provide unique branding and a tailored experience to your workplace. And if you’re ready to really build you personal brand, it could even be modelled on you and your name.

Watch the video

From the sensors to the strategy, our panel of experts discusses the how and why, and the role that virtual assistants play in creating frictionless technology for building occupants. Our panel (left to right): Ryan Boyles (IBM), Alex Melamed (IBM), Craig Alguire (CTO, Quantum Capture) and Andy Barnes (IBM).

The many form factors of Sarah

Sarah can be deployed in many form factors to meet the varied requirements of different organisations. Her primary interaction method is via voice and conversation to provide as natural as possible an experience.

Her highest profile interaction mode is via a touch screen kiosk. This could reside in a building’s reception area or an event to help first-time or infrequent visitors understand the location. She’s a perfect way to augment human staff, who may be tied up with a long queue of visitors or who are engaged in other higher-value tasks.

Sarah can also be deployed as an Augment Reality Model from tablets or smart phones. You can interact with as though she was actually there in front of you.  She can be installed directly onto employee or visitor phones to provide always-on mobile assistance as they travel the campus or facility.

In a virtual reality mode, Sarah can literally be anywhere, at any time.


Alternatively, she can simply be deployed as a traditional chat bot through a web browser or mobile app. In this mode, she can accept either voice-based interaction or typed text input.

Like all new, exciting technologies, Sarah’s capabilities will continue to evolve. You’ll see additional functionality as she matures, too.

May we assist you?

Ready to learn how you can create an accessible, conversational experience for your facilities? Schedule a consultation. Perhaps Sarah could even travel to your location for an onsite, face-to-(virtual) face demonstration.

Talk to an expert about creating your own assistant experience

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