By Mitul Tiwari
Two trends are driving massive changes in the technology industry today: First, the rise of conversational mediums such as messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and smart speakers like Amazon Echo. And second, the recent and disruptive advancements in Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Messaging Dominance in Mobile
There are more than 2.5 billion smart mobile devices in the world and people are spending more than 80% of their screen time on mobile devices. Messaging is the dominant activity on mobile and in fact, it’s the fastest growing activity on mobile devices. The numbers of users on some of the messaging platforms are staggering, for example, there are more than 1 billion users each on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Very recently messaging has also surpassed social networks in usage.
Messaging as a Platform
Recently Apple announced that iMessage is opening up for developers, which follows last year’s trend where Facebook Messenger, Slack, Twitter Direct Messages, Skype, Kik, Telegram, etc. opened up for development of interactive applications or “bots”. Now bots have mobile native platform capabilities as well such as location, voice, camera and images. Now businesses have a way to build conversational interfaces and interact with their customers on a platform where the customers are spending most of their screen time.
Rise of Voice Platforms
Smart speakers like Amazon Echo with Alexa came out a couple of years ago and are growing like wildfire. Google Home with Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple HomePod with Siri have also joined the market. In 2017, 35M people are expected to interact with smart speakers. Furthermore, LG is embedding Alexa in their refrigerators, Ford is putting Alexa in their cars, Ecobee is adding a voice interface in their thermostats and light switches. Very soon almost all homes and cars will have a smart speaker with a voice assistant. All these voice platforms are open for developing conversational applications such as Alexa skills or Google Home actions.
Conversational Artificial Intelligence
Building a bot on a messaging platform or voice platform is not that difficult but making the bot intelligent enough to understand natural language and to respond naturally is non-trivial. Some of the fundamental building blocks for conversational AI are natural language understanding, intent identification, information extraction, action triggers, query understanding and transformation, sentiment analysis, natural language response generation, speech processing, personalization, etc. Many of these conversational AI building blocks are feasible now because of groundbreaking advancements in Deep Learning.
Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing
In traditional machine learning, humans analyze data and design features, and machine learning optimizes a function to combine the features. On the other hand, in deep neural networks a.k.a. deep learning, the network learns multiple representations of the data and eliminates the need for complex feature engineering. In the last few years deep learning has been successfully applied in various Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks such as language translation, text summarization, image captioning, information extraction, question-answering, speech recognition, etc.
At Passage AI, we are using the latest deep learning technologies to build an NLP engine that includes various conversational AI building blocks to understand natural language text and speech, to identify intents, to extract various useful information, to understand and transform query, to search over vast amount of data, and to create an intelligent conversational interface. To deliver that technology to businesses, we created a bot builder platform that anyone can use to build an intelligent bot without coding and in a simple drag-and-drop fashion. And most importantly, to ensure that the bots can reach the largest audience, we built a pipeline to deploy an intelligent bot using our bot builder across multiple messaging and voice platforms with ease, that is: build once, deploy anywhere.
We are thrilled that Passage AI already offers the complete package for a conversational interface building platform: (1) a powerful NLP engine, (2) a bot building platform, and (3) a pipeline to deploy across multiple messaging and voice platforms.
Contact us to learn more and see a demo!