AI is also known as digital assistance or virtual assistance and is an application program which comprehends voice commands delivered in natural language and performs tasks for the end user.
Such tasks, historically performed by a personal assistant or secretary, include taking dictation, reading text or email messages aloud, looking up phone numbers, scheduling, placing phone calls and reminding the end user about appointments. Popular virtual assistants currently include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana – the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.
Types of virtual assistants
Though this definition focuses on the digital form of virtual assistants, the term virtual assistant, or virtual personal assistant, is also commonly used to describe contract workers who work from home doing administrative tasks typically performed by executive assistants or secretaries.
Virtual assistants can also be contrasted with another type of consumer-facing AI programming, called smart advisers. Smart adviser programs are subject-oriented, while virtual assistants are task-oriented.
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Virtual assistant devices and technology
Virtual assistants are typically cloud-based programs that require internet-connected devices and/or applications to work. Three such applications are Siri on Apple devices, Cortana on Microsoft Devices and Google Assistant on Android devices.
There are also devices dedicated to providing virtual assistance. The most popular ones are available from Amazon, Google and Microsoft. To use the Amazon Echo virtual assistant, called Alexa, users call out the wake word, “Alexa.” A light on the device signals to the user it is ready to receive a command, which typically involves simple language requests, such as “what is the weather today,” or “play pop music.” Those requests are processed and stored in Amazon’s cloud.
The technologies supporting virtual assistants deal in substantial amount of data that feed the artificial intelligence platforms, including natural language processing, machine learning and the speech recognition platforms. When the end user comes in contact with a virtual assistant, the AI uses complicated algorithms to comprehend from data input and grow to be better at understanding the need of the end user.
Virtual assistant capabilities
In general, virtual assistance performs simple tasks for the end user. Some of these are giving information related to topics that normally the end user search in web browsers in absence of AI support, adding errands to a calendar and checking and controlling the status of smart devices at home, such as lights, thermostats, cameras etc.
Users also program virtual assistants for receiving phone calls, getting directions, creating text messages, hearing weather reports and news, checking flight reservations, finding restaurants, hearing music, or playing games. Thus, AI has almost become a part of everyone’s daily life.
The future of virtual assistants
With so many advantages associated with a single device, AI surely is one of the best gifts humans have received from science.
Virtual assistants are evolving rapidly to provide the end users with more capabilities. With improved levels of natural language processing and speech recognition, Ai would assume an advanced shape in the future. When the voice recognition technology will improve, virtual assistant will be able to move deeper into the workflows of any business.