Siri creators show off new and improved Viv personal assistant

Digital assistants are a big part of how we interact with our mobile devices these days, and a big leap in digital assistant functionality could give a big advantage to a mobile OS. Siri, originally an independent product that was purchased by Apple in 2010, was touted as a major step forward for Apple’s iPhone. Now, the team that created Siri has given the first public demonstration of Viv, its new personal assistant. The Viv demonstration took place at the TechCrunch Disrupt NewYork event recently. Take a look at what it can do:

We've heard scraps of news about Viv for several years now. The company behind the software, Viv Labs, has remained pretty quiet on the details of its next-gen product, other than hinting that Viv would be able to answer more complex requests than current digital assistants. It looks like the company is keeping that promise—assuming the questions and answers weren't pre-programmed.

Dag Kittlaus, CEO of Viv Labs and co-founder of Siri, asked Viv some questions about the weather to demonstrate the software's ability to pull complex ideas from natural language. The digital assistant correctly answered the query "Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow," despite the complexity of the question. Viv also demonstrated its app-integration chops by paying off a bar debt when Kittlaus told the assistant to "send Adam 20 bucks for the drinks last night." According to TechCrunch, we should start seeing early integrations of Viv later this year.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 4 years ago

    Big deal. We’ve had some bots around here who talk like real humans for a while now.

    • Godel
    • 4 years ago

    “send Adam 20 bucks for the drinks last night.”

    No way would I let one of these things have access to my bank accounts.

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      I’d like to try “Transfer $10 million from (insert name of big-time financial institution here) to my account.”

    • davidbowser
    • 4 years ago

    The differentiation on these technologies is starting to show. The first iterations were all about asking questions and getting answers (Google, Siri). The newer forms are much more API and service aware for DOING things (Alexa and Viv).

    I am a pretty heavy user of Siri when I am in the car (I drive quite a bit for work), so I am acutely aware of the limits. I can reliably use Siri for calling contacts, getting directions to known locations, writing short texts, and for reading aloud emails and texts.

    I got an Amazon Echo as a Christmas gift and started hooking it up to whatever I could just to see where I can push it. I found that it was much more useful than Siri for certain types of actions in the home, and it is really starting to get closer to “Jarvis”. I put it in the kitchen and the most common uses are playing music, timers, and smart home stuff (lights and heat for now).

    Once I started to hit the limits, I started to look at stuff like IFTTT, and dig though for new and interesting ways to automate stuff.

    • meerkt
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]Digital assistants are a big part of how we interact with our mobile devices these days[/quote<] They are?

      • Techgoudy
      • 4 years ago

      For some people.

      While I only use it for calling, I have a friend who religiously uses Siri for everything. He uses it to find info on the web, uses it to find locations, and even sets reminders. So yeah some people really do depend on it more than others.

      • bender
      • 4 years ago

      Haha … I had copied that same exact phrase in order to paste it in just the manner that you did.

      While I would love for this to be the case, they’re still very much a novelty as far as I’m concerned.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 4 years ago

    This company and Viv will be bought, then merged into one of the other preexisting versions like Google Now, Siri, Alexa, or Cortana.

      • adisor19
      • 4 years ago

      This. I’m surprised Apple hasn’t bought them yet. They have some history there.

        • blastdoor
        • 4 years ago

        Presumably these guys left apple sometime after the Siri acquisition — perhaps they didn’t get along with someone at Apple. Or perhaps they decided they don’t want to be owned by anybody and would rather operate independently.

        Or maybe they are hoping to get a higher buyout price than before.

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    But will it give multiple different crazy answers to “what does the fox say?” like Siri does to keep my kids entertained for hours??

      • WhatMeWorry
      • 4 years ago

      Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
      Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!
      Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!

    • Neutronbeam
    • 4 years ago

    In Sumerian, “Viv” means “Skynet”. Time to go restock the bunker and add a few EMP grenades.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 4 years ago

    My digital assistant is Google and is backed by a ridiculous amount of processing power. Why use a separate client when you can combo espeak and a search engine funded by billionaires. I can already ask complex questions to google and get answers in near real-time without any snark or stupid jokes.

      • The Wanderer
      • 4 years ago

      For one thing, because Google doesn’t provide the same level of functionality.

      Taking the example at hand, if you pick up an Android smartphone and say “OK, Google, will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?”, you don’t get the answer to that question; instead, you get links to various articles talking about this demo.

        • JosiahBradley
        • 4 years ago

        Good point. However, this can simply be added to Google once they see it taking off from competitors without having to get a new phone or OS or app, etc.

          • Kharnellius
          • 4 years ago

          Why would you need a new phone, OS, or app? I mean, yes, this is a new app, but surely they will be adding capability through out it’s life, no?

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