Viv – The Global Brain

When Siri debuted in 2011, she was groundbreaking. Suddenly, each shiny new iPhone came with a virtual assistant, there to answer questions, take orders or just chat.

Siri’s limitations, however, were quickly revealed. While she could respond to direct one sentence requests (Call Sarah’s home phone) or answer simple questions (What time is it in California?), even seemingly straightforward demands (Locate the nearest Pinkberry) tripped her up. Soon, she became most useful as party fodder, passed around so guests could laugh at her programmed answers to philosophical questions.

In an attempt to do this Cheyer and fellow Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus, along with Chris Brigham (an early hire for the Siri team), are developing a new digital assistant that can handle complicated requests, using a crowdsourced approach. Instead of developing the system inside Apple, however, the group has broken out on its own to found the startup Viv Labs.

As hinted above, the central difference between Siri and Viv Labs’ AI system (appropriately named Viv) is that Siri’s responses are pre-programmed, while Viv is designed to learn as it goes, collecting an ever-expanding database of knowledge and abilities. The more people use Viv, the smarter it gets. (It’s kind of like the Waze of personal-assistant apps.)

Wired reported that Viv can already tackle complex requests, ones that would stump both Siri and Google Now (Google’s artificial intelligence, or AI, system): “You can [ask Google Now], ‘What is the population?’ of a city and it’ll bring up a chart and answer,” Kittlaus told the outlet. “But you cannot say, ‘What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born?'”

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Viv

Why It’s Hot

Detective Spooner would be going crazy right now because of this. The adaptive learning that Viv has could be ground breaking for consumer goods. We always hear about AI and what the capabilities are, but it always feels out of reach or too advanced. Here we have the opportunity for a new technological advancement to be implemented into one of the most common products in the world. Could this type of technology help in any experiencial environments created by brands?

 

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