Digital Assistants

In today’s busy world, you don’t always have the time to use your phone or computer to get a task done. You may be driving but want to send someone a text message. Or, your hands are occupied while you’re cooking but you would like to put on some music. Don’t you wish you had someone or something to assist you with these tasks? Thanks to a digital assistant. This voice-activated software gives you the opportunity to carry out these tasks and many others, on behalf of an individual. So instead of using your hands to pull up certain apps, you just need to speak a command for performing a task and the digital assistant will do it for you. Incorporated with natural language processing, automation, conversation interfaces, and machine and deep learning processes, digital assistants can perform a range of tasks such as playing music, ordering food, sending text messages, making a call, navigating help, booking appointments, finding nearby restaurants or other destinations, setting alarms and reminders, notifying about important events, finding files on a phone, manage emails, files and to-do lists, and much more.

Digital assistants are witnessing an immense rise in popularity with novel technologies being invented on a regular basis. Several tech giants invested in AI-driven and voice interactive assistants with the aim of making our digital lives more convenient. As a result, there is a rush happening in the digital assistant market worldwide. Tech giants are hoping that their product will become your ‘go to’ assistant for all the things you need help with.

In 2016, Google developed the Google Assistant that can engage in two-way conversation with the use of natural language processing algorithm. The assistant can also search the Internet, schedule events and alarms, show information from the user’s Google account, and do much more. In May 2018, Google showed that its digital assistant could mimic a human over the phone with pauses, ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’. Enhanced with artificial intelligence and Duplex technology, the new Google assistant converses so naturally that it seems as if a real person is talking. In the show, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google played a recording of the assistant independently calling a hair salon and a restaurant to make bookings by interacting with staff who had no idea that they were interacting with an artificial intelligence software instead of a real person. According to the tech giant, the assistant is a potential boon to busy people and small businesses which don’t have websites that customers can use to make appointments.

In 2014, Amazon developed a virtual assistant called Amazon Alexa that allows you to speak your wishes to an Echo smart speaker and watch the tasks getting done such as dimming your lights or playing music tracks. The device also allows a user to set alarms, create to-do lists, provide weather information, and even order items from the Amazon website.

In 2013, The Blackberry Assistant is another digital assistant developed by Blackberry Limited which allows users to perform a wide range of tasks based on voice-based inputs. The assistant enables you to send emails, send text messages, make calls, create a calendar event, get answers to numerous questions, handle device settings, search the Internet, get directions to a specific address, set an alarm, post a tweet, search your music library, check weather information, find your destinations of interest, and do more.

In 2011, Siri is another intelligent virtual assistant developed by Apple, that allows users to send text messages, make schedules, make calls, play music and videos, navigating areas, handling device settings, checking basic information, answer questions, make recommendations, and do more. The product was first incorporated in the iPhone via iOS 5 released in 2011 and then made available on a few different platforms. Siri gradually gets used to users’ individual language usages, searches, and preferences, with repeated use.