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Hey Mr Chatbot – send me a pizza

Dominoes, JUST EAT & Pizza Hut are all developing chat bots, JUST EAT won (and donated to charity) a prize for a Skype bot at the Skype //Build conference – So is the future in Chat bots ? I have played with a few Skype ones and so far, I am not massively impressed. My conversations with the SkyScanner bot didn’t feel like this was the best interface to find a flight and my conversation with Spock didn’t lead to enlightenment, I haven’t played with the award winning JUST EAT one as yet (as it was developed by a client I am sure it is awesome).

Not what I expected from a chat with Mr Spock himself
Not what I expected from a chat with Mr Spock himself

I can’t see the future being confused conversations with ambiguous results a lack of choice and a poor GUI, in fact it feels like we are taking steps back towards the command line interface pre-windows but a little more forgiving.

These chat bots may become considerably more powerful but first a huge amount of data analysis, tuning and investigation would need to be done, I would suggest using AI to improve this but when Microsoft applied this to their own bot, it resulted in a disgruntled racially abusive adolescent.

Voice however is rapidly becoming an alternative interface and with the Alexa and Google Home hitting the UK later this year, understanding how voice can become an input should companies invest here? Should android voice intents be investigated for your app?

Oddly the one more successful “chat” interface that works better is Google (I don’t mean Google Now or the numerous chat clients they are building) – Google search interprets your input successfully if you mis-spell and are incredibly ambiguous with what you type – the data sources which power the experience seem to be cle, when drunk a search on Google for “Get me Home” results in a list of available methods (including Uber if available).  AnswerThePublic & the Hummingbird update both demonstrate the changes in behaviour we expect from the most popular search engine, and the results are customised based on your location, time of day, device and the conversation you are in the middle of with Google (and longer search history).
Over the past few weeks I have been experimenting more with voice search and it is rapidly becoming a preferred input method, it is increasingly more accurate and usable but if I am on a train (or in public). I suspect however that Chat Bots will be used by the same people who are scanning QR codes.

Links
Pizza Hut Chatbot cnet.com/uk/news/pizza-huts-chat-bot-can-take-your-order-on-facebook-and-twitter/
Dominos ChatBot digitaltrends.com/social-media/dominos-facebook-chatbot/
& Just Eat – Cortana integration –

Evil Microsoft bot – telegraph.co.uk/technology

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