New Zealand and Australian vets first to offer pet wellbeing advice from a digital human.


Virtual Vet Nurse, the New Zealand-based veterinary practice technology company, today launched ‘Sophie’, a digital human, allowing pet owners to access credible health and nutrition advice directly from clinics’ websites. Available from today, selected practices across New Zealand and Australia will be the first in the world to employ a digital human to efficiently meet the information needs of pet owners, including new pet-owning millennials. 

An AI-powered digital human, Sophie, communicates with non-verbal cues – like facial expressions and tone of voice – to provide a dynamic, emotionally responsive and informative experience to clients via a practice’s website. 

Steve Merchant, CEO of Virtual Vet Nurse, says: “People turned to pets for companionship during the pandemic and rely on vets for credible answers about animal wellbeing and nutrition, yet clinics are facing the added pressures of COVID-19 protocols and staffing shortages. Sophie allows busy practices to provide that vital education and engage clients, while freeing up vets to spend more time treating animals.”

Danny Tomsett, CEO and founder of UneeQ who developed Sophie’s avatar, says: “Pet owners often need a little extra empathy when seeking answers around their pet’s health and wellbeing.

“When they can’t get that directly from their vet, Sophie is now available to chat – providing curated, expert advice, online and in real time. This is the beginning of what we can expect from a new era of web 3.0 experiences.”

Sophie uses a self-learning conversational AI brain, developed by Ambit, to converse with a clinic’s customers. Launched in 2020 to support the profession during the early days of the pandemic, this conversational AI can manage many everyday administrative processes, such as booking appointments, confirming an animal’s vaccination status and asking pre-consultation questions. 

“Sophie by Virtual Vet Nurse illustrates the strength of New Zealand-developed digital humans, combining the IP of UneeQ and Ambit. When 80% of queries from customers relate to the same 20 or fewer questions, a virtual vet nurse immediately takes the pressure off the front desk in busy vet clinics,” says Tim Warren, CEO, Ambit.

Virtual Vet Nurse’s solution has been supported by Royal Canin and Zoetis and will next enter the US and other international markets.