Siri may be synonymous with the words "digital assistant," but
Apple's sassy assistant will soon have a lot more competition. It's
going to come from the same people who first created Siri in 2007.
Dag Kittlaus, the company's CEO (and one of the original Siri co-founders), took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. He showed off their newest creation, Viv, a next generation AI assistant that they have been developing in stealth mode for the last four years.
goal was to create a better version of Siri, one that connected to a
multitude of services, instead of shuffling queries off to a basic web
search. During a 20-minute demo, Viv handled a dozen complex
requests, not just with comprehension, but by connecting with
third-party merchants to purchase goods and book reservations.
Like with Siri, Viv wants to build a conversational and smart layer that lets you interact with various services. But Viv is taking everything one step further. It’s more personal, it’s more ubiquitous. More importantly, there’s a developer platform to add more services. A demo is worth a thousand words. Without further ado, meet Viv:
"Viv is designed to be devices agnostic – think one platform, open to all services, for all devices, personalized for you. Viv's goal is to be ubiquitous so it will understand your preferences and history as you engage with it on your mobile device, or in your car, or with your smart device at home," said Adam Koopersmith, a partner with Pritzker Group Venture Capital, one of Viv's investors. "Our sense is there will be a move away from having hundreds of different apps that act independently. These services will be integrated into everyday life. Viv will be the platform to enable it."
Viv is powered by a new technology called "dynamic program generation".
The technology, which Viv's founder described as "a computer
science breakthrough", is software that can essentially write itself in
less than a second, according to Kittlaus. What this means, he says, is
that Viv can grow and learn much more quickly than
other assistant platforms. Kittlaus said that the plan is to begin
a "rolling launch toward the end of the year" that will include "phone
apps and other things that we're working on with partners". So, it
sounds like the company's plans could include hardware devices as well
as mobile apps.
Siri vs Viv-
The major difference between Siri and Viv is that the latter is a far more open platform. One of the biggest frustrations with Siri is that it has only a small number of tasks it can complete. For the vast multitude of requests or queries, Siri will default to a generic web search. Viv's approach is much closer to Amazon's Alexa or Facebook's Messenger bots, offering the ability to connect with third-party merchants and vendors so that it can execute on requests to purchase goods or book reservations. The company's tagline – intelligence becomes a utility – sums up its goal of powering the conversational AI inside a multitude of gadgets and digital services.
In 10 milliseconds, Viv wrote a 44-step program that figured out all of the details around the context that the Golden Gate bridge is a point of interest and when the day after tomorrow is, connecting all the services in mind. It’s pretty incredible technology.
Since Viv is platform agnostic,
we’re looking forward to seeing this technology in the hands of Android
developers. The future of interacting with our devices is looking to be
increasingly conversational, and this might be the assistant that makes
it a reality. The demo was, in a word, impressive. No word on when we might start seeing it in our devices.