Doing Business | IT & Technologies

May 10, 2016

Siri's Creators Introduce Viv, Their New AI-Powered Personal Assistant

Siri may be synonymous with the words "digital assistant," but Apple's sassy assistant will soon have a lot more competition — and it's going to come from the same people who first created Siri in 2007.

Viv, a new artificial intelligence-powered assistant app, just made its formal public debut and it looks like the app will be well worth the wait. Dag Kittlaus, the company's CEO (and one of the original Siri cofounders), took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York on Monday to show off the assistant in the company's first public demonstration of the app. 

All in all, the demo was an impressive one. The app is handle complex questions like, "Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5 pm the day after tomorrow?" It also connects to third-party services like Uber and Hotels.com so you can hail rides and book hotels through voice commands. 

Kittlaus also showed off an integration with Venmo that allows users to send money to friends with just one sentence. 

Notably, this is not the first time we've seen a personal assistant app that's able to do a lot more than Siri and even Google Now. In fact, Viv is very similar to Hound, the intelligent assistant app created by SoundHound. Hound, which launched back in March, can also understand similarly complex queries and also has a developer platform third-parties can plug into. And, unlike Viv, Hound is available now (more on Viv's launch plans in a minute.)

Even so, Kittlaus offered a small peek at the technology that makes Viv work, and it goes a long way toward explaining why the app has garnered so much pre-launch hype.

Viv is powered by a new technology called "dynamic program generation." The technology, which Viv's founder described as "a computer science breakthrough," is software that can essentially write itself in less than a second, according to Kittlaus. What this means, he says, is that Viv can grow and learn much more quickly than other assistant platforms (go to the two minute mark in the video above to hear his full explanation.)

While all that sounds pretty impressive, the real test, of course, will come when Viv formally launches to consumers and developers (though competing platform Hound has been well-reviewed so far, it's far from a breakout hit.) And it's still not even clear exactly when, or how, the company plans to launch Viv. 

Kittlaus said Monday that the plan is to begin a "rolling launch toward the end of the year" that will include "phone apps and other things that we're working on with partners," so it sounds like the company's plans could include hardware devices as well as mobile apps. 

Of course, Google and Apple are also investing heavily in their own AI technology and their assistants, which have a distinct advantage on Android and iOS, respectively, and are likely to improve with new advancements. So it's unlikely that Viv will replace either one overnight (barring an acquisition — Facebook and Google have both been reported to be interested). Either way, we hope Siri is taking notes.

 

Text by Mashable
 

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