Innovation Heroes: How video game developers are driving productivity
Meet the digital assistants that are freeing up overburdened workers.

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Charles “Chuck” Rinker wants everyone to be as addicted to their own health as some are to video games. As the former director behind EA Sports’ long-running Madden Football and NCAA video game series, he should know. Now, as CEO and Founder of PRSONAS by nuMedia Innovations Inc, he’s bringing digital personalities to industries.

On the latest episode of Innovation Heroes, a podcast by SHI, host Ed McNamara talks to Rinker about the evolution of human-computer interfaces.

Rinker has a fascinating career trajectory, starting out in cattle farming and then going on to Black Ops military simulation work. But his career pivoted after he and his wife battled three bouts of cancer between them.

“Individuals are so desperate for information when they’re in a situation like that,” says Rinker. “You want to take any burden off the patient that you can. And part of that patient journey is becoming more and more of a digital patient journey.”

PRSONAS makes interactive, intelligent digital personalities to supplement the work of humans. It was formed by video game developers with decades of avatar-building experience. These digital assistants can perform tasks like wayfinding, answering questions, and taking surveys, freeing up overburdened workers to focus on other priorities. They also increase accessibility, with the ability to communicate in more than 150 languages, including sign language.

Rinker discusses how the technology was developed, including the concept of the uncanny valley, which is when androids become so human-like that they become creepy. Early advice from a Walt Disney Imagineering SVP led Rinker to change course to focus on more animated-looking characters.

“The assistants are approachable, so they are empathetic and not viewed as a threat,” he says. “So they are trustworthy, and that’s led us to success in the clinical trial world, where you’re trying to attract more underserved communities, such as minority communities.”

The team focuses on making technology communicate with humans rather than teaching humans how to run technology. Rinker outlines how they use GenAI, explains the roles of UX and CX design, and describes how various sectors use the technology, including healthcare, travel, finance, and commercial clients.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more about digital personalities. You can also find episodes on SHI’s Resource Hub, Spotify, and other major podcast platforms, and on YouTube in an all-new video format.

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