Remember Jarvis from the Iron Man series? J.A.R.V.I.S or Just A Rather Intelligent System was developed by Tony Stark and had the capability to understand, interpret and act on all sorts of commands that a human throws at it. This assistant was not the run-of-the-mill web search kinds, it was capable of executing intricate/simple commands from “Paint that in hotrod red” to ” give me a fight analysis pattern”. Digital assistants are the wave of the future and we are already experiencing them.
The smartphone has become much larger than just a call device, it houses some of the most powerful technology of the world in it! While the first popular digital assistant Siri was debuted on the iPhone, it has taken on many forms since then and has become more powerful than ever. Here’s taking a look at the digital assistant- past, present and the future.
No conversation about the assistant industry can go on without the mention of Apple’s Siri. The woman who can search the web for almost anything, open your apps, set your reminders and alarms – it was a first of it’s kind which had reached the masses’s hands. Introduced for the iPhone 4S in 2011, it has the power to make recommendations, take dictation, check out the weather and be your right hand. All you need to do is press down the Home button and say” Hey Siri” to get it started. Since 2014, Siri has also been available in some cars via CarPlay which enables the vehicle audio system to be a display and controller for an iPhone.
Developed by Microsoft to compete with Siri and the likes, Cortana was introduced to the world in 2014 at a BUILD Developer Conference. It is named after the synthetic intelligence character in the company’s top selling game – Halo! It is accessed by the search button in the task bar on desktops/laptops and brought up by the search key on smartphones. It’s features include setting reminders, answering questions using Bing search, music recognition, phone notifications and can even control smart light bulbs in some versions! Cortana is also heavily integrated into Microsoft’s new browser called Microsoft Edge and has a pretty impressive Analytics Suite.
An app that is available for both iOS and Android, it is one of the first apps which can understand questions in a way a human brain can- with multiple inputs and parts at once. It is one of the fastest assistants and throws up answers in just a matter of seconds. According to The Verge, it remembers your data so that follow up questions may be asked and the data search be faster. It has the capability to instantly translate into many different languages and can be simply accessed by saying “Ok Hound” into the microphone in its latest version. The underlying technology takes a unique approach to natural language processing and is able to do “speech-to-meaning” when combined with advanced machine learning and other AI techniques.
4. Amazon Echo
This is where the physical reality of digital assistants is experienced! Amazon’s Echo is a wireless speaker powered by a seven piece microphone array and its in house assistant is called “Alexa”. Alexa is capable of playing music, audiobooks, voice interaction, music playback, to-do-lists, alarms, streaming podcasts and so much more! It can control smart devices too. The Echo has been in development since 2010 and runs on its own Amazon Web Services. Echo’s USP is that it fares well even on slow internet connections and processes speech commands in less than 1.5 seconds. And plus – it looks super fancy!
5. Google Home
Shortly after Amazon amazed the world with the Echo, technology giant Google came out with its version called “Home”. It isn’t available for sale yet, but it is a rather nice looking device. Unlike Echo, this one has to be powered all the time and it too has far field microphones that can hear your voice from a distance. It’s a small cylindrical device with a customisable outer shell. Google’s demo showcased it to be a really powerful speaker with good tones, but it’s killer features lie in the ability to play music on other speakers, talk to your chromecast and of course work with Google Play Music. Google wants to make it an automation device to work with thermostats, lights etc.
The makers of Apple’s Siri showcased what they would like to call “The Global Brain” known to everyone as Viv which is capable to understanding the many complex intricacies of the human being! It wants to get developers to use its platform and incorporate third party integrations into the virtual assistant fray. It spits out answers to queries in less than a matter of seconds and it’s clear strength lies in its “stackability”. It too embraces the “follow up”idea just as the Hound. The real secret of Viv is “dynamic program generation” which allows the AI powered assistant to understand intent and generate a program itself to best answer the query, reports TechCrunch.