We have been interacting with computers and getting information in return for quite some time, that fundamental nature hasn’t changed, what has evolved is the package in which it is delivered. As the traditional app services appear to be on the verge of extinction ,the bots , better said intelligent chat beings, accessible through limited apps would enhance the usability and bring a seamless cross-platform experience. Before moving further to find how this transformation is going to take place, let us quickly take a glance about bots and how they emerged.
“Chatbots” What are they?
Chatbots are virtual digital assistants that are programmed in a device to carry out a task assigned by it’s user through voice and text forms. These conversational computer programs have transformed people’s way of interaction with their device from self initiated tasks to casual conversations. Bots incorporate NLP (Natural Language Processing) which translates a person’s language despite of accent, tone or dialect into a form the machines understands, so that any application in your device can be accessed with just a voice command. Which means easy to access, less effort and quick results.
How we got here?
Many assume that the idea of having a conversational agent in a device was introduced recently but the truth is we have been interacting with the machines for a very long time. The term, Chatbot was coined when ELIZA (1966) and PARRY (1972) were developed and primarily used cue words or phrases from the user input to generate results. Built with just 200 lines of code, ELIZA could bring in just small conversations.The lack of technical infrastructure plagued the development of chatbots in the ‘90s.
To enhance the request-response feature in machines a little more effective, Microsoft in the 80s released the command prompt in their DOS. Using this, programmers were able to generate outputs and achieve their desired tasks by keying in commands. The problem with command prompts is that the user had to be precise with their commands otherwise the end result would be an error. For users who are unfamiliar with the commands, they found this method of computing complex so Microsoft had to come up with an alternate solution.
GUI (Graphical User Interface) capability was then added to their OS in order to improve the ease of access and make computers much more user friendly . GUI provided it’s user the compatibility to interact with their devices visually through graphical icons and regular texts. This was well received by people as computing was made simpler and this triggered the beginning of personal computers era.
Communication with the machines shifted to the next level when voice recognition softwares and A.I. blended in for the first time, personal assistants for the likes of Siri, Google Now, and Cortana were brought into existence for the common folks. The online community, well-versed with latest technologies was set to like it for its user interface and multi-platform usability. Hence, when the application age seems to be diminishing, it is beyond the obvious where chatbots would take over.
The operating system of the future is not Windows but “Conversation of a platform” – Satya Nadella, Microsoft
How they work
Chatbots work on the basic principle of using a message like interface to communicate with the users. On the other end, an intelligent computer in most of the events or a human executive to deal with complex conversations or demands would be persistent in the bot world.
In the near future, if chatbots take over the web, we are looking forward to an event where, there would be no need to search, slide, select, or switch. All of it could be done through a conversation. The rapid technological advancement has induced a catalytic phenomenon where every big player in the industry is banking on the prospects offered by chatbots.
This is playing a central role in harvesting and mining the conversations between businesses and Messenger’s 900 million monthly active users. – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
How Bots are taking over Traditional apps?
Nowadays we can see there are lot of applications available in the market and It’s getting harder to download, setup, manage and switch between so many apps on our mobile device. There are different apps used for different purposes. A person tend to spend a lot of time switching between apps for each work.
Whereas Chatbots are one stop solution that smart devices have been waiting for. The streamlined experience that will finally relieve us from the burden that our apps put on our devices. Apps slow us down. For most of what we do on our mobile devices, the chatbot and chat interface are ideal. Below are some of the real time examples where the bots are going to take the center stage.
Messaging and customer service
Recently, in a developer conference Mark Zuckerberg announced his plans to integrate AI controlled bots to the messenger App in order to answer basic customer’s queries. Also Facebook launched the M chatbot a few months ago which enables the user to build smart chatbots to interact and purchase things they need.
Amazon’s Echo device has been a surprise hit, reaching over 3 million units sold in less than 18 months. The devices AI named as Alexa is programmed in a way where it can get into Amazon’s product catalog and order the customer their products. Apart from ordering new items it also has the ability to go through the purchase history, suggest new items, re-order items, etc.
Media and entertainment
Apple integrated its voice assistant Siri with Apple TV so now you can ask Siri to play
Your favorite TV shows, check the weather, search for and buy specific types of movies, and a variety of other specific tasks. Apple will no doubt expand Siri’s integration into Apple TV, and it’s likely that the company will introduce a new version of AppleTV , perhaps with a voice remote control that is always listening for commands.
TigerConnect launched HealthBot, the first platform solution for building chatbots in health care Ideal for healthcare organizations, insurance providers, and large pharmacy chains, HealthBot leverages the TigerConnect secure messaging platform, structured conversations, and natural language processing. The custom-branded application frees support representatives from wasting time on repetitive, routine information gathering so they can focus on more advanced tasks related to a patient’s needs. Through a simple chat window, patients can interact with HealthBot to schedule appointments, inquire about a drug’s side effects, or receive reminders to take their medication.
It will be in the context of your daily life. It will be on your phones, devices you wear, in their cars and even in your living rooms. – Sundar Pichai, Google
The application-age is set to lose its sheen in the coming years. When the 70% of app traffic comes from the top-200 of the innumerous apps available, the disparity is clearly visible between the demand and supply. Chatbots promise minimum app installations, and maximum services provisions. Well, you could order food, call a taxi, search an ATM, book a ticket or pay your bills, all through just one app. The idea seems splendid enough. Let’s see how it performs after the actual inception.