Visiting a doctor from your own home? It's becoming possible, thanks to a Wisconsin company

MEQUON (WITI) -- It may be as close as some of us ever get to an in-home visit from a doctor, and it comes from a company based in southeastern Wisconsin.

"It started officially a year ago here in Mequon, Wisconsin," Mark Stephen Meadows, the founder, chief creative officer and chief science officer at Geppetto Avatars, Incorporated said.

But unofficially, this followed 15 years of continuous development -- prompted by the desire to find a solution to common situations facing folks who want to meet with medical and health professionals.

"You can't always schedule an appointment when you want it," Meadows said.

Not with a human, anyway...but you can schedule an appointment with "Sophie."

"Sophie is our health care assistant," Meadows said.

Meadows founded the Mequon-based company that has developed a something of a virtual appointment, using what is essentially a software robot.

"As a small app, on almost any mobile device, you're able to speak to the system. It's able to recognize what you say, it's able to recognize your body language, your gestures, your tone of voice, and then it responds in natural language. And, at the same time, it animates," Meadows said.

Seeing the technology at work is pretty remarkable.

"Green dots show the expressions on his face, as he moves. We have these eight different emotions, and when he talks, it goes into one of those spots. That helps us assess whether he's upset about something, whether he's happy," Meadows said.

"You actually get to help people in people's lives," Geppetto Avatars Chief Executive Officer Norrie Daroga said. "If you think about using this technology to provide some solutions, not all of them, to marginalized populations, around the world -- there's a lot of value to that," Daroga said.

Also of value is the fact that the funding for this start-up started in southeastern Wisconsin.

"Individuals took it upon themselves to invest heavily in this company, and those individuals, they're all from Wisconsin, and all from Milwaukee," Daroga said.

Geppetto Avatars are expected to become available to some organizations beginning in September, and to the general public sometime next spring.