Archive

Archive for the ‘Search’ Category

I could get Siri-ous about corporate Siri

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s fascinating watching the build up to CES being dominated by anticipation of what Apple (who famously aren’t at the show) may or may not do next.

Voice recognition was predicted to be a particular focus at the show – and CES hasn’t disappointed with voice controlled TVs, Intel unveiling Ultrabooks featuring voice in nine languages and possibly with real-time translation ability. You talk to your Ultrabook in Chinese and it responds in English.

Apple's Siri

The hype around voice recognition is driven from Apple’s Siri – the ‘intelligent personal assistant available on the iPhone 4s that helps you get things done just by asking’. While still in beta – and suffering a few teething issues – Siri has taken voice recognition from the ghetto of misunderstood commands and nonsensical responses to being a service people actually want to use on their phone.

Siri’s popularity is such that it seemed to catch Apple’s server farms slightly flat-footed at launch as demand for Siri to answer questions such as “What’s the meaning of life?”; “Where’s my nearest ATM” and “Close the pod doors” outstripped capacity, resulting in connection issues.

More telling was Google’s response from Eric Schmidt that the service was a threat to Google’s search business. A politic comment maybe, but you couldn’t ask for a better compliment from a competitor. Rumours of Siri being a key feature on Apple’s iTV has also quite obviously put the heat on current TV manufacturers – as evidenced from CES.

Siri may be hooked up to massive internet knowledge libraries but she is also unashamedly hungry to learn. Once out of the box she will pore through information from your contacts, music library, calendars, and reminders to better understand what you say. Siri also helps you by learning about the key people in your life. The first time you ask Siri to call your sister, it will ask you who your sister is. That information is stored in Contacts along with other relationship information like “mom,” “husband,” and “grandma.”

Siri on meaning of life

Siri shows she has a sense of humour - or at least her developer did

As has been noted by some users this eagerness to learn and improve can lead to embarrassing situations.  Mozilla Labs lead designer Kevin Fox found out the hard way that what happens in Siri doesn’t necessarily stay in Siri.

Siri is currently a personal assistant for non-business users. And being in beta is, as evidenced above, still in a rather childlike state in many regards. But she is powered by Wolfram Alpha –  a knowledge engine on steroids whose ultimate purpose is to unify the sum of all human knowledge.

Once Apple work through it’s teething problems Siri’s success as a personal application is assured. But imagine the potential as a business tool. What company wouldn’t have a spare virtual seat at the boardroom table for the quiet member who can provide the answers on absolutely everything under the sun –  from company reports; interest rate predictions; to the smallest detail on the company ledger?

How much would a company pay for a compliant director whose brain encompasses the sum of all human knowledge, who can be available 24/7 – and who also manages your entire internal knowledge base? An ultimate knowledge resource that for CEO or CSR is only a question away?

I find Siri rather fetching in her personal capacity, but she could be seriously hot once she hits corporate mode!