Google’s Answer to Siri- The Next Step in Natural Language Processing

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

As could have been predicted, Siri, Apple’s voice-to-text virtual assistant, now has competition coming from several directions. It is safe to say that Virtual Agent technology, along with natural language processing (NLP), has been catapulted to high demand, first in web and now in the rapidly-growing mobile platform. Google is bringinggoogle 3 competition with Majel, their voice-to-text virtual assistant that comes as a more digital, less personalized answer to Siri. Google is the current desktop and mobile search market leader. They are also Apple’s loftiest competitor.

According to an article from FastCompany.com, Google’s application could have several advantages over Siri, including the ability to operate inside apps, better Android integration and the ability to use Google’s abundance of data and different search services to produce answers. The article also points out that Google’s mobile search ad revenues have gone down with the dawn of Siri, giving them even more motivation to beat Apple in its search ventures.

Majel adds natural language processing to the already existing Google Voice Actions application. Voice Actions allowed the user to accomplish tasks on their phone by speaking into the phone, but its abilities were restricted. According to the blog Android and Me (which first released the news about Majel), “Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like ‘send text to…’ or ‘navigate to…’, Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language, similar to how Siri functions.”

Creative Virtual uses a powerful natural language processing engine, which keeps the context of the conversation, allowing the user to explain their issue in the way they would to a real customer service representative or salesperson. This enables the Virtual Agent to not only understand the subject the person is interested in (like a website search would do), but ask asdaproduce the exact answer the user is looking for in a conversational style. For example, when you inquire to ASDA Groceries’ Ask ASDA, “How do you deliver?” the Virtual Agent gives you the step-by-step delivery process from the store to your front door.  When you ask, “Where are my favourites?” an answer is provided that explains the location of favourites in the new website layout.

Natural language processing is becoming more and more prominent on mobile devices, and is on its way to becoming a household term. A good NLP engine can recognize a question regardless of the form it is phrased in, and will still answer it correctly even if there are minor misspellings and incorrect grammar used. Virtual Agents’ natural language processing offers an excellent benefit to mobile phone users who need an instant answer to their question. Check out Creative Virtual’s mobile Virtual Agent device strategy.

The concept of voice-to-text Virtual Agent technology using natural language processing has a significant place in history, as the codename of Google’s application reminds us. The name “Majel” is taken from Star Trek’s Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the voice of the Federation Computer. Ages before Siri, Star Trek had already dabbled in Virtual Agent technology. Android and Me predicts that Majel could be released as soon as sometime as this month.

Resources