Whilst a new study carried out by Verto Analytics revealed that phone based virtual assistants saw declines in terms of monthly users, it would appear that those which cater to home devices grew. Siri may still be the most widely used personal assistant with around 41.4 million users, but it’s monthly users dropped by 15% on this time last year. In comparison, the monthly unique users of Google and Alexa have substantially increased with Alexa’s user figures increasing by more than 200%.

Regardless of this shift in device preference, virtual assistants are on the rise, and as their intelligence improves they are being used as solutions to a multitude of problems not only for personal use on your phone and in the home, but in a variety of businesses and industries.

With the Early Bird discounted ticket offer coming to an end next week (July 28) for the AI Assistant Summit in London, we’re taking a look at the current trends and cutting edge research in the space.

Register now to confirm your place at the summit.

AI and Chatbots are Transforming the Customer Experience

You find yourself on a website and have a question. In the bottom right hand corner you see the ‘live chat’ option. Will it be able to answer your question? Chances are that if you asked this 18 months ago the answer would have been ‘maybe’, and to get to your answer would’ve taken some clunky back and forth, but as they improve chatbots are becoming the preferred method of customer support in retail, finance, and many other areas. As well as providing excellent customer experiences, they’re helping companies to cut costs across the board as they get closer to providing a human-like dialogue. The implementation of machine learning and natural language processes is helping developers to get closer to this level of conversation and as these machines learn they begin to understand the meanings of words in different contexts and combinations. If you’re tired after a busy day and don’t want to sit on hold for hours, or need urgent support out of hours, chatbots are increasingly becoming the favourable solution.

LawBot to Issue Own Currency

LawBot, the legal advice chatbot created last year by four Cambridge University students has just announced the issue of it’s own currency with the relaunch of their product later next month. The legal chatbot is hosted on Facebook messanger and calculates a user's’ chance of winning a legal claim with 71% accuracy, and then recommends them to specific law firms best suited to deal with their claims. Ludwig Bull, founder of LawBot, came up with the idea whilst volunteering at a school sexual consent class and initially designed the product to advise sexual assault victims. The chatbot analyses the quality of users’ claims using data-driven intelligence and their launch of their currency will see LawBot partnering with specific firms who purchase these LawBot ‘coins’.

Ludwig will be presenting at the AI Assistants Summit where he will be exploring chatbot architecture best practices and conversational interfaces, and discuss the progression of his virtual assistant since it’s conception in 2016.

The First Alexa Phone Gets Amazon Even Closer to Total Domination

Alexa is becoming so much more than a cool gadget. If you’ve had one in your home for a while you’d probably feel lost without it, you can control the lights, set timers, check the weather, the opportunities are endless, and now with Alexa taking centre stage on the HTC U11 (rather than trying to trace it down on Android where it’s previously been somewhat hidden). How do you activate it? You simply say ‘Alexa’ and it will appear. Google assistant and Alexa are currently coexisting on Androids, but how long will it be before Amazon’s robust AI assistant takes over from Siri on mobile devices and claims the top spot?

Chatbots to Take Over Most Customer Service Work in Hong Kong

‘While mainland China is developing into a powerhouse in natural language processing (NLP) technology, Hong Kong is also looking to crash the party with several start-ups working on chatbots for specific applications, including ones that can communicate in Cantonese.’ Amongst other companies, Clare.AI’ are working on a chatbot to replace customer service providers. The chatbot uses natural language processing and AI to assist their customers via their favourite messaging app (be that Facebook, SMS, WeChat) and help them to manage their personal finances. Whilst these products are fully functional in English, they’re lagging behind in Cantonese which is where Clare.AI are catching up with their NLP engine ‘dedicated to understanding conversations about finance’ which already has an accuracy of over 70%. Ken Yeung, Co-Founder of Clare.AI explains how the independent NLP engine enables the start-up to better ensure data privacy through the fact that they ‘build the technology based on research and open sourcing.’ Ken will be at the AI Assistants Summit in London and will discuss their NLP model in further detail as well as their work in conversational banking.

As AI assistants become more prominent in business as well as in personal use, the summit in London will explore the application of machine learning and deep learning to create these assistants and conversational interfaces to create deeper, more personalised one-to-one customer experiences. We will explore the impact that predictive intelligence will have on business efficiency as well as personal organisation.