Building a Chatbot AR-my

Everyone, it appears, is obsessing over the next generation of chatbots. Chatbots have been around for a long time, arguably from Alan Turing in 1950. You’ve probably used one. Think of Microsoft’s Clippy paperclip. But this next generation of chatbots are developing in really interesting ways — for example in customer services. The way a brand talks and communicates will remain key, but the way to get scale is going to be automated.

Could the next big step be chatbots and Augmented Reality working together? AR is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially thanks to the recent AR phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.

Venture Beat suggested that Pokémon Go could be a groundbreaking model, and takes it a step further, suggesting that finally, bots combined with AR have the potential to enhance spectator sports, particularly since many require a bit of insider knowledge to understand the rules of the game.

Even Apple boss Tim Cook agrees: “AR can be really great. And we have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We are high on AR for the long run. “We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

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Whilst it is worth noting that Apple has been quietly snapping up augmented reality patents, it hasn’t really divulged its plans, so we’ll have to wait and see what Apple does.

Here’s 7 things to know about the new chatbot ‘AR-my’

1.Chatbots are an automated computer program that mimic online chats with people using artificial intelligence. AR will potentially give you a smarter layer on top of that. AR will allow chatbots to be seen in context — not just on desktop. The next generation of AR chatbots will take artificial intelligence and customer service to the next level, which will certainly affect how we live our lives.

2. A quick summary of the chatbot market: Google debuted its Allo smart messaging app recently and it put Apple’s Siri to shame, by reserving tables for your dinner and other cool features. But this isn’t the last we’ve seen from Apple and we’ll have to see what Apple does next. This movement in audio-based help will certainly be improved by AR for enhanced visual dimension.


3. Yahoo also joined the bandwagon, launching its first chatbots on a chat app called Kik Messenger. Digg did one for Facebook and countless news sites are playing with the concept. But again this isn’t it for the likes of Facebook. I expect to see more from Facebook along the lines of more AR enhanced maps, chatbots locating friends etc.


4. Publishers are also getting involved. The Quartz news bot app is a great way to get information in a playful way, news intercepted with emojis and GIFs. You can engage with the news and it is very easy to use. Similarly, The Guardian has been experimenting with Facebook’s Messenger bot platform with a Sous Chef bot. How does it work? You find Guardian Sous-Chef on Facebook, and send it a message. When you do, the chef should introduce itself, and then give you the opportunity to find recipes to cook from the Guardian and Observer’s website. It’s a really fun use of the medium and I think there will be many more to come in all arenas — from e-learning where bots serve as tutors to shopping. The Guardian understands that publishers need to step up as innovators and they are offering real time engagement via digital taking their brand values into experiences.


5. From a consumer point of view, chatbots will continue to be very popular — but they must become even more natural, so all interactions feel seamless. We’ve all had problems asking Siri to set the alarm and I’m looking forward to a more natural experience. AR can potentially provide that. Think of everyday scenarios — such as putting on make-up. “Hey Siri, what product shall I put on my face?” Blippar have worked with Max Factor to make all their products fully interactive with digital content, so the next step is naturally for chatbots and AR to present a seamless and personalised experience.

6. From a marketing point of view, there’s a lot money to be made from chatbots and AR — they can be service bots, help push sponsored and native content, be used for research and for the retail market, the opportunities are endless. But the brands need to be truly helpful; otherwise savvy consumers will not be interested. The Max Factor example is a way of providing a helpful service and potentially raising awareness about products.

7. Will the bots become too powerful? Will the customer experience become too authentic? Is there too much disruption and will humans eventually outsource too much to search engines? Wharton has published an interesting long read: The Rise of the Chatbots: Is it Time to Embrace Them? Which looks into these concerns. Many points are valid, but ultimately, the future must have AR and Chatbot tech as a force for progress.


The potential is great, AI can be a great democratizing experience yielding incredible returns — just think of shared farming expertise and medical breakthroughs, the next gen chatbot AR-my promises to be incredible.

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