AI companion firm Replika has teamed up with the workforce behind AI courting simulator Blush to launch Tomo, a wellness and meditation app that comes with AI-generated avatars to information customers. This idea appeared doomed as soon as generative synthetic intelligence took off, however throughout my time with Tomo, I discovered myself questioning if I might confide in synthetic intelligence in the identical manner I might an actual therapist.
Tomo, now obtainable on the Apple iOS retailer, transports customers to a digital island retreat the place they’re greeted by an AI-generated avatar information named…Tomo. Tomo provides applications to assist individuals discover private progress, psychological well being and achievement. It additionally provides guided meditation, yoga, affirmation lessons, and most significantly, speak remedy.
Customers can attempt Tomo without cost for 3 days, after which they need to select to pay $7.99 per week or $49.99 per yr.
I will must attempt Tomo earlier than posting. Once I first launched the app, I used to be greeted by spa music, which means that the app desires customers to really feel like they’re at a retreat moderately than in a therapist’s workplace. Then, the avatar Tomo (a younger lady) stood in entrance of a conventional Japanese home on an island and requested me if I used to be prepared to start out. Tomo began asking me questions to seek out out what I wished to do.
“We labored with coaches and psychologists to develop a plan for Tomo. We targeted on the most typical issues, but additionally thought of what can be finest for conversational AI,” mentioned Replika founder and CEO Eugenia Kuyda. edge in an e mail. “We had in depth expertise constructing a training program for Replika with scientific psychologists at UC Berkeley; for Tomo, we prolonged that to mindfulness lecturers to include Japanese and Western practices.”
This method looks like texting a therapist and asking about text-based remedy companies like BetterHelp. I’ve had in-person remedy, so sharing extra about my very own experiences is nothing new. However I’ve by no means been a fan of phrase remedy; I desire stream-of-consciousness conversations to expressing my anxieties on a typewriter. However with a purpose to do it myself, I saved sending textual content messages to Tomo. It began constructing a profile primarily based on my solutions. My profile reveals that I prefer to deal with work, have cash anxieties, and need assistance dealing with stress; in different phrases, a journalist who exists within the late phases of capitalism. Tomo summarized our dialog, however he mistakenly assumed that I had a “dedication to pursue ceramics,” when in reality I used to be simply interested by it as a attainable stress reliever.
After the preliminary dialog, the consumer can discover different actions or “zones” on the island. Clearly, I don’t have a digital pottery to pursue. As a substitute, Tomo provides programs on mastering the artwork of work-life steadiness, driving motivation, and bettering sleep, within the type of modules that customers can full in two weeks to a month. Finally, the builders say, individuals will be capable to unlock 3D objects across the island “which is able to assist discover their inside sanctuary extra deeply.”
Avatar Information Tomo must be powered by generative synthetic intelligence to have higher conversations with customers. However actually, speaking to Tomo is not that completely different from speaking to a daily chatbot. I am unable to get it to take part in a bit of artwork remedy with me (it may well’t draw) or retail remedy (it may well’t assist me with the buying or journey duties I attempt to assign it) – which implies, as an alternative of feeling like a whole A shaped digital presence onto which I might unload my worries, it felt like somebody had put background music on ChatGPT.
Whereas I discovered the guided meditation useful, it additionally felt like different guided meditation apps I’ve tried earlier than. Finally I discovered myself shedding curiosity, largely as a result of by the point I remembered to open Tomo, I already had a activity assigned to me by my therapist.
The usage of synthetic intelligence for psychological well being remedy stays controversial, particularly as privateness protections stay inadequate for a lot of technology-based psychological well being options. It is a difficult enterprise, and Replika, the person behind Tomo’s digital incarnation, has fallen on exhausting occasions. Italy banned Replika final yr as a result of the chat app didn’t meet safety requirements. However Replika’s CEO mentioned that whereas the corporate did not present me with its full privateness coverage, it was taking extra precautions with Tomo.
“We don’t share any info with any third events and depend on a subscription enterprise mannequin. What customers inform Tomo is confidential between them and the coach,” Kuida mentioned.
Tomo is just obtainable for iPhone; an Android model will likely be launched later this yr. Replika additionally plans to launch an app on Apple Imaginative and prescient Professional, paving the best way for extra immersive Tomo-guided meditations.