The promise of artificially intelligent assistants is that one day they’ll make our lives easier and let us interact with devices the same way we would with other human beings. So far, the existing technology has fallen short of this goal, despite AI assistants constantly getting better. Now a new contender, called Viv, has entered the scene and it wants to be the do-all and end-all of virtual assistants and bots.
Developed by some of Siri’s original creators, Viv is looking to be the ubiquitous artificial intelligence, not only making all devices smarter, but also making them easier to use for regular people. According to its creators, Viv is set apart from the likes of Cortana, Siri and Google Now by the cross-platform, cross-device nature of the AI. Also found on Viv’s list of talents is a new way of performing tasks, by understanding what the user wants and then reportedly writing its own algorithms to get the job done.
While all of that sounds both technical and lofty, the real test is what Viv can do for a regular user who’s perhaps now familiar with other virtual assistants. Viv’s capabilities were demoed on stage at TC Disrupt, where one of the company’s co-founders played around with the still-in-development prototype. While simply finding out the weather or calling an Uber seems mundane at this point, Viv’s penchant for understanding complex queries was indeed impressive. For example, the virtual assistant didn’t even metaphorically blink before answering the question “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow? “. Viv also performed well with sequential questions on the same topic, a trick that’s important in making conversations easier and more natural when engaging with AI.
It’s important to note that while Viv’s creator believes this tech to be revolutionary, we’ve seen parts of it show up in many other AI assistants as well. For example, Cortana is both context-aware and can integrate with third party apps when answering questions. So can Siri, albeit to a much lesser extent. And both of these platforms have higher reach than the Viv upstart. What happens behind the scenes is a different matter though, and Viv’s creators believe that’s where the new platform will outshine the rest of the competition.
Thanks to its cross-platform, cross-device philosophy, Viv’s creators believe that with engagement from the developer community, the AI could quickly outshine other virtual assistants and expand its capabilities perhaps on an unprecedented scale. Viv is also seen as the cure for all the confusion and frustration that users are bound to feel if Microsoft and Facebook’s bot strategy ends up becoming real. Viv is supposedly positioned as a way to bypass third party bots and unnecessary interactions and simply do the work that users want it to do without needing continuous input and instructions.
To say that Viv’s creators believe the platform to be a big deal seems like an understatement, and there are lots of positive reasons to make you hope Viv will succeed. But its competitors are by no means standing still.
There’s no word on which platforms will be supported and when exactly Viv will launch, but the platform is expected to start a staggered roll-out sometime towards the end of this year.