AI Assistants — Why They Are the Hottest Technologies Today
Whether it was the spy car KITT from Knight Rider or a snarky JARVIS from Iron Man, AI Assistants do have a thrilling presence. They definitely make a lot of us want our own digital butlers who could do a lot of cool things. And while we haven’t yet reached the stage where we can get them to do any physical tasks, the Machine Learning and AI assistants today can definitely help you when it comes to researching or performing tasks online.
History of Virtual (AI) Assistants
The earliest record of a virtual assistant was known as the IBM Shoebox, which was able to perform digital speech recognition and was introduced to the public at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. It was able to recognize 16 spoken words and 0–9 in digits. Following this was ‘Harpy’, a computer designed in the 1970s at the Carnegie Mellon University with the support of United States Department of Defense. This computer was able to recognize around 1000 words. In the 1980s, the same group of scientists created a computer using the Hidden Markov Model that could not only understand individual words, but also entire word sequences.
While these came long before the very famous smartphone IBM Simon in 1994, the latter has been set the foundation for the all voice assistants that we have today. The first modern virtual assistant that was released on a smartphone was Apple’s Siri. It was introduced on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Now others such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant have all become big names in the world of virtual assistants.
AI — powered Assistants
Virtual Software assistants, sometimes also known as chatbots, are basically online chat programs that were originally designed for entertainment, but now can help perform a lot of different tasks, such as accessing information, turning apps on and off on your phone, etc.
While Alexa and Cortana, were just names a few years ago — these days the names are commonly associated with some of the most powerful virtual assistants by Amazon and Microsoft, respectively. These devices are now controlled via voice, allowing users to simply ask them commands in the pre-selected language such as English instead of writing codes as queries.
The growing popularity for smarter assistants has given it a lot of potential in today’s technology-driven world. According to Statista, the market for AI-driven personal assistants and bots is expected to double in 2018 and reach more than $12 billion by 2020 with 1.6 billion active users.
What Digital (AI) Assistants Offer
With the potential of AI assistants growing steadily, it is crazy to not wonder about all the different benefits that they can offer. While people are still vary of them today, this is definitely not going to be the case in the future, when all you need to interact with your device is a simple activation phase like, “Hey Alexa” or “Ok, Google”.
Here are some of the benefits that AI Assistants offer:
- Natural Language
Unlike old virtual assistants that required a series of codes to ensure you get a proper reply back, the latest AI assistants allow users to simply make requests using natural language such as English. You can now ask your assistant a simple question that they can understand, research and provide you with an answer.
They are now getting even smarter as now they can recognize different types of voices. According to Amazon, Alexa is now able to recognize 10 different voices and provide a personalize response for each individual one.
AI virtual assistants take personalization a step further. Have you ever noticed those recommendations when shopping or looking up something on Google, well AI assistants do the exact same thing but with queries and tasks.
When you ask an AI voice assistant a query, it will use AI algorithms to understand your behavior and based on your previous search results or other information it collects from you, it will attempt to understand you and then provide you with a more relevant result. So, the next time you ask your Alexa to tell you the weather, it will automatically check your location before telling you the temperatures outside.
3. Rich Knowledge
With all the information of the internet in their digital hands, AI virtual assistants are some of the smartest devices on the planet and the best part is that they are constantly learning. These devices can also learn from you and your behavior, as well as apply that information to what it learns from the internet.
Also, a great thing about AI is that it can also work with other devices across other platforms, such as Alexa can ping Cortana for certain data, and it can also access your Gmail to help you stay updated on your latest news. This cross-platform makes it easier and more convenient for users to coordinate all their devices through one AI.
4. Increased Connectivity
The combination of AI and IoT are bringing about a whole new level of communication between people, devices and companies. And many times, they simply go hand-in-hand. The integration of IoT is making it possible for virtual assistants to learn more from the data that is collected by the devices. The increased information allows the assistant to provide a more relevant result to the searches. It also allows multiple devices to connect to each other such as Siri being able to connect to the car’s GPS system.
5. Increase Productivity
Hands-free allows you to get more things done on the go and is also faster. Instead of searching and going through many different queries to get the answer you want, virtual assistants can answer that question in a matter of seconds. Voice activated ones can also leave you hands-free, making it easier to do multiple tasks at the same time.
For example, you can ask Siri to check the directions without ever having to take your hands off the wheel.
6. Bridging the gap between Humans and Technologies
Technologies such as virtual assistants are bridging the gap between humans and technologies, connecting us to an even greater level. Voice assistants are opening the doors for the progress of other related technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, self-driving cars, connected homes, and so much more.
Virtual AI assistants are the future, with more people now becoming connected using these amazing devices. The number of people using some kind of voice activated virtual assistant such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa or Cortana are growing and we can expect this trend to continue. These virtual assistants not only make it easier to do hands-free searches but Alexa and Google Home also allows us to connect our smart technologies to one virtual hub. You can control lights, temperature and even the lock mechanism on the door using your virtual assistant.
The potential for the future of virtual AI-powered assistants are limitless. According to Gartner, almost 30% of the searches in 2020 are predicted to be without the use of a screen. And experts expect the virtual assistant market to become more competitive as the technology improves.