Last month, Microsoft announced that it has created the first technological breakthrough that allows people to have a natural conversation with chatbots. Many existing chatbots like Cortana, Siri and Alexa allow you to have a conversation with them, but you need to be clear, simple and straightforward so that they can understand what you intended to say. Microsoft’s new breakthrough allows you to speak to a chatbot like how you might speak when talking on the phone to a friend.
Technically, this capability is called “full duplex”, recently Google announced at I/O conference that they are bringing this capability to their Google Assistant later this year. Microsoft has implemented this full duplex capability in Xiaoice, a popular social chatbot in China. Over 600k people have tried this feature since its launch.
Yesterday, Microsoft announced that they are opening the full duplex capability of Xiaoice to partners and developers to use in their applications. Microsoft also announced new story telling feature to connect Xiaoice with families.
With input from parents and kids, she’ll be able create a 10-minute customized audio story for kids in about 20 seconds. Xiaoice uses a specific trained deep learning model to personalize everything from background music to story characters.
This service will be available for free in Asia from June 1. Microsoft is also partnering with a non-profit organization to create the largest audio-book library with Xiaoice for children who are blind or visually impaired.
On a related note, yesterday, Microsoft announced that it has acquired Semantic Machines, a Berkeley, California-based startup which is developing a revolutionary conversational AI technology including a new Conversation Engine. Read more about it here.