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Ryman uses AI tech to create a time machine

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on June 28, 2023

Ryman Healthcare has created a virtual ‘time machine’ for residents as part of an exploration into artificial intelligence technology with the aim of enhancing the retirement living experience.
Two volunteer residents got the chance to see a youthful AI-generated version of themselves as part of a Mother’s Day-themed surprise to share with their families.
Photographs and stories of the residents were collected and then used as inspiration to instruct both ChatGPT and Midjourney AI to create a younger version of the resident which then told a story or poem with a Mother’s Day theme.


Edmund Hillary resident Pamela Hibbard, 82, was the first to experience the novel presentation of her younger self.
The AI transformed old black and white two dimensional photos into a moving, talking head – complete with Kiwi accent! - to create its version of a younger Pamela.
The AI Pamela then introduced itself and proceeded to tell a poem it had written based on details from Pamela’s life.
Pamela said she had no idea what to expect and after watching the short clip was quite lost for words.
“Wow, that’s lovely,” she said. “I feel quite overcome by it really. It’s so clever how it’s speaking.”
combine_images (4)

Left to right: Pamela as a young woman, Pamela today and the AI likeness of Pamela inspired by her old photograph.

Her two daughters Leigh and Briar were also there and described the sensation of seeing a younger version of their mum come to life.
“It’s amazing. I’m actually quite emotional,” Leigh said.
“We’d love to share it with the rest of the family,” said Briar.
The two sisters said it was quite surreal to see the AI Pamela: “It’s sort of her, but it’s not really.”
They couldn’t wait to watch it again and agreed it would be something that more people would be interested in.
Said Leigh: “I think people would love it. It would be lovely to do, to extend those stories for future generations.”
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Pamela (centre) with her two daughters Briar (left) and Leigh (right) after watching her likeness on the big screen.

Grace Joel resident Noela Beatty, 90, shared her AI experience with all four of her children present at a special family Mother’s Day lunch.
Again, using information gleaned from Noela herself, and instructions such as ‘can you write me a poem about Noela and her life as a mother’, the fictional AI Noela wowed her real life counterpart with what it created.
The whole family burst into spontaneous applause after watching, with exclamations of ‘wow’ and ‘that’s amazing’ ringing out.
Noela loved the way the AI version of herself was presented, with old photos from her youth interwoven with the novel poem.
Her three sons and her daughter Jennie said the idea of preserving memories in this way was really important for families to capture and pass on through the generations however they admitted the concept of the AI likeness took some getting used to.combine_images (3)

(Above) Noela on her wedding today, Noela today and Noela's AI likeness and (below) applauding after seeing her likeness perform.

IMG_0503 crop (Large)Ryman Healthcare’s Chief Experience and Engagement Officer Mary-Anne Stone said some people might be surprised that older generations were open to the benefits of new technologies.
“Providing opportunities like this is part of Ryman’s goal to create communities that challenge the expectations of ageing.”
The project aimed to have fun exploring with residents the possibilities that artificial intelligence presented for ensuring that the stories of each generation were captured and shared, she said.
“We’re grateful to Pamela and Noela who have proved that they are ready to join us on this journey and explore this new technology frontier.”
“We hope they love sharing their AI artefacts with their families.”

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

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