iO brings the Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ digital twin to life with AI

Port of Antwerp-Bruges and iO gave APICA, the virtual copy of the port, a more human face based on artificial intelligence. 

APICA (Advanced Port Information and Control Assistant) was launched in early 2022. Now, the avatar representing the digital twin gets a new outfit, warmer voice, and friendlier facial expression. Moreover, she speaks as many as 100 languages. 

Thanks to a digital network of drones, sensors, and cameras, APICA helps port workers work smoothly and safely. It provides real-time weather information, disseminates data on air quality and automatically contacts safety advisers in case of incidents. In the future, APICA can also prevent dangerous situations by combining historical data with AI. 

APICA has long been known among port employees, but towards outsiders - such as residents and foreign delegations - the digital twin could use a recognisable face. That is why Port of Antwerp-Bruges asked blended agency iO to make APICA more human and brush up on its language skills. 

More friendly face 

First, the AI specialised in still-image generation created a wide range of synthetic characters, from which Port of Antwerp-Bruges chose an open, friendly face. 

New outfit 

The next step: APICA's outfit. Chosen was a second, still experimental AI from OpenAI. Partly because iO colleague Rodger Werkhoven advised OpenAI as an independent Creative Director in the development of their Dall-E 2 AI, he and his team from iO could work on Dall-E Experimental. A design was chosen to symbolise APICA's artificial origins. Also, to help people not confuse APICA with a flesh-and-blood human. 

Synthetic voice 

The final phase was the most exciting. How now to bring APICA to life? And what should her synthetic voice sound like? To this end, a third Artificial Intelligence was chosen from AI developer D-ID. This AI is trained on the human face's behaviour and the human voice's sound in interpersonal communication. iO's Rodger Werkhoven also assisted D-ID as a creative advisor, resulting in a unique AI tool that allows Port of Antwerp-Bruges to bring the personification of their APICA to life finally. Not just in motion but also in speech. APICA speaks no less than a hundred languages, accent-free! For the time being, it works using text-to-speech technology, but should this become relevant for Port of Antwerp-Bruges, then APICA can also enter a question-and-answer dialogue with people directly. ​ 

Presentation assignments 

AI-Avatar APICA has already been engaged at the Flemish Port Day (7 May) and Transport Logistic in Munich (9 to 12 May). From now on, it will also explain port-related issues in a simple, tangible way at events and presentations at home and abroad. 

About iO
iO is a blended agency. We help clients such as Proximus, De Nationale Loterij, Audi and Brussels Airport to sustainably shape and improve total brand experiences that leave a mark on people. By thoughtfully blending the right expertise – strategy, creation, technology, marketing, and data – and actively partnering with our clients. That’s how we advance digitally with our clients, for their customers.

iO (formerly Intracto Group) was founded in 2005 and works with local and international businesses, organisations and governments in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Bulgaria.

About Port of Antwerp-Bruges ​
As the second largest port in Europe, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is helping to build a sustainable world. In doing so, it is working to reconcile the economy, climate, and people. Together with the port community and their partners, they turn today's challenges such as energy transition, digitalisation and mobility into solutions. Ready for a future that makes them more efficient, safer, more sustainable, and smarter. 




Client: Port of Antwerp-Bruges ​
Client contact: Joke Rommelaere ​
Account: Ena Stevens, Stephanie Katic, Charlotte Severijns, Bas Smabers ​
Executive Creative Director: Rodger Werkhoven ​
Creative team: Frederik Maes, Maxime Andrien ​ ​
Designer: Quentin Baes ​ ​
AI-Design en Art Direction: Rodger Werkhoven, Olivier Teepe ​
AI-Voice Design: Rodger Werkhoven, Olivier Teepe ​
AI-Animation: Rodger Werkhoven ​
Strategy: Frank Cuypers, Amber Verberckmoes 


Roel Van Aelst

Roel Van Aelst

Marketing & Communication Director, iO

About iO

iO is a blended agency. We bring together talent in marketing, technology, content, strategy, and creativity. With our belief that "experience is everything," we help our clients provide their target audience with rich and relevant brand experiences. Our track record includes helping strong brands such as Audi, Brussels Aiport, Efteling, Eneco, Fiberklaar, and Worldline grow.

Established in 2005, iO operates locally and internationally, serving companies, organisations, and governments from our campuses in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and Bulgaria.