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A young and ambitious pair of former Apple Employees and Siri co-creators are reportedly gearing up to take the wraps off of their collaborative new development — a highly-advanced virtual assistant platform, formally known as ‘Viv’ — which sources say could reinvent the ways in which a user interacts with their electronic devices.
After years of under-the-radar development, Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, are just days away from demonstrating what they believe is poised to become the most powerful and immersive new artificial intelligence platform developed to date, according to an extensive write-up featured in The Washington Post this week.
The purpose of Viv, according to Kittlaus and Cheyer, is to create an AI-based median by which users can more effectively connect with businesses and service providers. What sets Viv in a class of its own, however, is that the platform would be so deeply integrated with a user’s device, that it would essentially transcend the limits of applications. In other words, Viv wouldn’t be restricted by big tech-companies such as Apple and Google.
Here’s an example scenario that Kittlaus and Cheyer gave to reporters: Viv would be able to do things like intelligently process voice input, and then use that input to carry out the user’s request — for instance, to order a pizza from a specific restaurant, or a car from Uber; to buy flowers from 1800flowers.com for your honey, or even purchase tickets to a concert.
Kittlaus and Cheyer emphasized, however, that the conceptual idea is to universalize Viv — meaning that it could potentially even do things like control home automation equipment, for instance.
Cheyer and Kittlaus are well-known in the tech community for their collaborative effort that ultimately became what we know and use today as Siri — Apple’s home-brewed, personal voice assistant that was introduced back in 2010.
Yet Siri, being what Apple describes as a “clever AI chatbot,” is inherently limited by the Cupertino-company who birthed her. Siri was never developed with the intention that she would ever do much above and beyond what she currently can, according to Kittlaus and Cheyer. Prior to the technology being acquired by Apple, Siri was actually capable of doing more than she currently can, believe it or not, and it’s because of Apple — or rather, Steve Jobs’ original vision for Siri — that the voice assistant was stripped of her hierarchy of abilities.
“Steve had some ideas about the first version, and it wasn’t necessarily aligned with all the things that we were doing,” Kittlaus said.
Despite having been built at least in part upon the Siri platform, Viv effectively “turns up the heat,” so to speak, in comparison to what Apple’s current iteration of Siri is capable of doing. For example, in the case of, say, planning a date with your loved one — Viv would be able to do it all for you. Everything, from looking up movie times, to comparing ticket prices at various theaters, placing an order (or cancelling it, in the event your date ends up flaking out at the last minute), and even recommending dinner reservations for before the show. Talk about taking care of business, huh? Best of all, though, Viv would be able to orchestrate all of these transactions, make reservations, or cancel, etc., from a single point of contact, and without the need of standalone, 3rd party app data.
According to The Washington Post report, both Google AND Facebook have thus far made serious offers to purchase Viv from Kittlaus and Cheyer — although it remains unclear, at this point, if anything ever surfaced as the result of those talks. Perhaps for obvious reasons, however, Kittlaus and Cheyer have made it quite clear that they’re interested in distributing the software for implementation across a wide array of platforms, and featuring deep integration with as many vendors and products as possible.
“Our goal is ubiquity,” Kittlaus said. “There’s no way to predict where that goes except to say we’ll pick the path that gets us there. Either way, we will finish the job.”
What do you think about Viv? Could a virtual assistant platform as deeply integrated and universal as its creators envision it being really change the game as we know it?