Ex-Siri team to unveil 'Viv' virtual assistant next week in quest for ubiquitous AI

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2016
After years of development, Siri co-creators and former Apple employees Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer are ready to demonstrate "Viv," an advanced virtual assistant that could reinvent the way consumers interact with their devices.


Viv Labs. | Source: The Washington Post


Viv is the subject of an extensive feature published by The Washington Post on Wednesday, offering a peek into the artificial intelligence startup and what its conversational assistant could mean for the broader tech industry. The tech was first revealed in 2014, about three years after Kittlaus and Cheyer left Apple.

With key partnerships and a vast database from which to draw, Viv wants to be the portal through which users connect with businesses and service providers. Integration goes beyond apps, meaning customers bypass gatekeepers like Apple and Google. For example, Viv can process conversational voice input to order a car from Uber, buy flowers from FTD, order tickets from a variety of services and connect with and control smart home hardware. Kittlaus said the idea is to make Viv "ubiquitous."

Kittlaus and Cheyer are perhaps best known for their work on Siri, a virtual assistant technology purchased by Apple in 2010. The tech made its way onto iPhone 4S and is now integrated into all current iOS devices, serving a number of functions from creating calendar entries to answering basic user queries.

Described as a "clever AI chatbot," Siri was meant to do much more than its current feature set as developed under Apple. Prior to its acquisition, the service integrated with a number of e-commerce providers to offer users a one stop shop for their online shopping needs, from movie tickets to food orders. The Apple buy stripped away those partnerships, and it appears company cofounder Steve Jobs had a different path mapped out for the AI tech.

"Steve had some ideas about the first version, and it wasn't necessarily aligned with all the things that we were doing," Kittlaus said.

Viv is built in part on Siri's foundation, but goes well beyond what Apple's assistant can offer in terms of "intelligence." For example, Viv can look up movie times, compare ticket prices, place a ticket order, suggest alternatives in the case that a certain showing is sold out, recommend pre-show dinner reservations, cancel a previous order and more, all from a single point of contact. Importantly, Viv is able to link data from multiple services together without the need for standalone apps.

The report claims both Google and Facebook have made offers to buy Viv, though it is unclear what, if anything, came of those talks. Kittlaus and Cheyer want to distribute the technology across multiple platforms, with integration from as many vendors as possible. The team is not averse to selling Viv, as it did Siri, to meet those lofty goals.

Viv technology will be demonstrated publicly for the first time at an industry conference on Monday.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,262member
    Man I hope they can deliver on what they promise. Siri sucks big time. Alexa is even better as is Google Now. I keep trying to go back to Siri but just throw her to the curb after I've used her and am not satisfied. 
    lord amhrancaliirelandcnocbuijdwJohnnyCanadianroger wade
  • Reply 2 of 64
    why-why- Posts: 305member
    another one? I'm starting to lose track
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 64
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,291member
    All of them are useless if it's not integrated with Apple system - that includes privacy and security.
    fastasleepcornchippropodwilliamlondonjbdragonpalominestevehpscooter63repressthisjony0
  • Reply 4 of 64
    lord amhranlord amhran Posts: 902member
    Hopefully it can be all the things SIRI was supposed to be....
    jonlbrian greencnocbuianantksundaramJohnnyCanadianjony0
  • Reply 5 of 64
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,699member
    kevin kee said:
    All of them are useless if it's not integrated with Apple system - that includes privacy and security.
    Fair comment, but at the same time these systems need to access your personal data if they want to be really useful. Siri hasn't improved much in six years, aside from answering certain preprogrammed questions to amuse the internet. 
    cornchipirelandbrian greenwilliamlondonJohnnyCanadianpatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 64
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,835member
    One has to wonder why they left Apple. It's doubtful they would go for buyout round two, but Siri's usefulness doesn't really go far beyond setting reminders and alarms for me. 
    lord amhrancaliirelandbrian greenanantksundarampscooter63patchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 64
    laytechlaytech Posts: 226member
    Man I hope they can deliver on what they promise. Siri sucks big time. Alexa is even better as is Google Now. I keep trying to go back to Siri but just throw her to the curb after I've used her and am not satisfied. 
    I disagree SIRI sucks, its the best voice recognition software I have used. Sure its not perfect but it is so handy, when driving for example, I can ask Siri to read a text, call my wife, and play a track. It does so much more but it is just getting into the habit of using her and remembering what she can do.
    williamlondonlolliverjbdragonmike1steveh
  • Reply 8 of 64
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,291member
    Rayz2016 said:
    kevin kee said:
    All of them are useless if it's not integrated with Apple system - that includes privacy and security.
    Fair comment, but at the same time these systems need to access your personal data if they want to be really useful. Siri hasn't improved much in six years, aside from answering certain preprogrammed questions to amuse the internet. 
    Agree that Siri needs to improve particularly in allowing 3rd party apps to access personal data but on on the same time - WITHOUT - compromising the privacy of the user to these 3rd party (ie. business/service providers). At the moment, one can't do without another, so let's see how they come out with better solution.
    edited May 2016 irelandwilliamlondonrepressthis
  • Reply 9 of 64
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    I've been waiting to see what this brings. It was pretty dirty how they left Apple shortly after being acquired just to make a "better" AI assistant.

    Yes SIRI is terrible it's more of a frustration than not using it at all.

    if I ask for certain movies on iTunes Siri will send me to safari while other movies send me directly to iTunes. The most frustrating is when I ask for a movie on iTunes and get  "I couldn't find any show times for [X movie] nearby"

    And don't even get me started on Apple TV. It's simply EMBARASSING  and I've come so close to chucking the remote and pulling my hair out. Sometimes I clearly ask for a show and get "I can't search the web". Other times Siri doesn't know a show exists even though it's on iTunes AND Netflix.

    This was so frustrating I had to screenshot it the other day:



    She literally pronounced that string of characters.
    manfrommarsirelandjonlbrian greenanantksundaramJohnnyCanadianpatchythepirate
  • Reply 10 of 64
    mobiusmobius Posts: 378member

    I can't help but notice the name looks like someone shrugging their shoulders...


    Hopefully that's not the stock response to most of your questions!

    slprescottnolamacguypalomineRayz2016cornchippscooter63repressthisfastasleeppatchythepirate
  • Reply 11 of 64
    irelandireland Posts: 17,743member
    sog35 said:
    You know why Siri sucks?  Because of Tim Cooks ridiculous stance on privacy.  Without being able to data mine you, Siri is clueless and dumb.

    Cook needs to stop his pious and extreme stance on privacy.  Its hurting Apples cloud advancement, Siri, advertising platform, and Apple pay (wont share data with merchants)
    Unfortunately it's necessarily. Apple, unlike you sees a future where the slightest invasion of your privacy by the wrong person could mean many bad things. Apple's stance on privacy is something only a naive person would disagree with IMO. I love how noble Apple's stance is when it comes to privacy. It's not just a competitive advantage—it's invaluable in its own right.
    lolliveriosenthusiastcaliRayz2016mike1
  • Reply 12 of 64
    manfrommarsmanfrommars Posts: 104member
    Siri is awful.  It's amazing how slowly this tech has developed.  I really hope these guys have some promising developments, so we can look back on Siri the way we look back on Pong.  But sooner rather than later.
    jonlbrian greenJohnnyCanadiancalipatchythepirateroger wade
  • Reply 13 of 64
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,516member
    Can I get one Virtual Assistant to talk to all the other Virtual Assistants then get back to me with the best answer?

    brian greenwilliamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 64
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,602member
    So they're trying to sell a product twice?
  • Reply 15 of 64
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,648member
    With acquisitions like Vocal IQ, Novauris and Apple internal research, you can expect great things for SIRI.

    The Viv idea of doing a complete task via voice recognition is not impressive because once the device understands what you are asking, it can do a million things.

    The idea of SIRI questioning a speaker about the context of what they are saying and learning and refining by asking questions is much more impressive.
    That's Vocal IQ.


    If all Viv has is it's ability to do multiple things then it's DOA.





    edited May 2016 wonkothesanelolliversteveh
  • Reply 16 of 64
    brian greenbrian green Posts: 662member
    I'd hope with more competition Apple will push out some serious improvements with Siri.  I admit to getting frustrated with Siri on multiple occasions and just using Safari to search for what I wanted in the first place.  I understand that Siri isn't simple, and there's a lot to the backend, but there's got to be some serious improvements to Siri before it's something I can't live without.  There are plenty of us out here whom aren't interested in sports scores, or the weather.  For instance, when I ask, "What's the freedom of assembly article in the Washington State Constitution (It's Article 1, Section 4, by the way), not only didn't she know what I meant, but when I get a response, I'd like to be told the Article number, and for her to read it to me.  There's nothing more frustrating for me than to ask a question, expecting a verbal answer, only to be told, "Here's what I found." I don't care to click on what you found and go to some webpage.  If that's what I wanted, I'd have used Safari to begin with.  I want Siri to actually TELL me what she found and read it to me.  Don't give me a link.  If I ask Siri, "What's the largest lake in Washington State?", she'll say, "Here's the information." and put the search results on the screen (Lake Chelan), rather than telling me the answer.  It's frustrating, and results in me not wanting to use Siri.  It's kind of like having an assistant that doesn't do much, and rather than telling you the answer you want, hands you a post it note with the answer on it, or something completely misinterpreted.  Siri needs some serious improvements.
    anantksundaramJohnnyCanadianurahara
  • Reply 17 of 64
    sog35 said:
    You know why Siri sucks?  Because of Tim Cooks ridiculous stance on privacy.  Without being able to data mine you, Siri is clueless and dumb.

    Cook needs to stop his pious and extreme stance on privacy.  Its hurting Apples cloud advancement, Siri, advertising platform, and Apple pay (wont share data with merchants)
    I realize you hold major stock in Apple and your postings are mostly intelligent, cogent, and worthy of consideration but Cook is going nowhere. The board loves him and these stock buybacks have made many many people happy that otherwise might support a coup.

    Heres the thing. What I describe is a weakened perhaps neutered version of how Google works. 
  • Reply 18 of 64
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,176member
    As most posts have correctly pointed out here, Siri is currently a mediocre service. It is quite useless except for simple tasks like setting the alarm and the timer. 

    Why isn't Apple spearheading taking Siri to the next level via collaborating with Watson, given their relationship with IBM? As with ApplePay, Apple Music, CarPlay, HomeKit and HealthKit, the ambition and hype seem to have got ahead of actual performance. 
    edited May 2016 patchythepirateroger wade
  • Reply 19 of 64
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,828member
    cornchip said:
    One has to wonder why they left Apple. It's doubtful they would go for buyout round two, but Siri's usefulness doesn't really go far beyond setting reminders and alarms for me. 
    The AI article offered an explanation for why they left: After the acquisition Mr Jobs (Apple) wanted to take Siri in a different direction.

    Described as a "clever AI chatbot," Siri was meant to do much more than its current feature set as developed under Apple. Prior to its acquisition, the service integrated with a number of e-commerce providers to offer users a one stop shop for their online shopping needs, from movie tickets to food orders. The Apple buy stripped away those partnerships, and it appears company cofounder Steve Jobs had a different path mapped out for the AI tech.

    "Steve had some ideas about the first version, and it wasn't necessarily aligned with all the things that we were doing," Kittlaus said.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 20 of 64
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,516member
    sog35 said:
    As most posts have correctly pointed out here, Siri is currently a mediocre service. It is quite useless except for simple tasks like setting the alarm and the timer. 

    Why isn't Apple spearheading taking Siri to the next level via collaborating with Watson, given their relationship with IBM? As with ApplePay, Apple Music, CarPlay, HomeKit and HealthKit, the ambition and hype seem to have got ahead of actual performance. 
    The reason Apple isn't working with IBM and Watson is because Watson requires a tremendous amount of data. And Apple isn't willing to give customer data to ANYONE.  The same thing with AI. Many AI specialist won't work with Apple because of Tim Cooks ridiculous privacy stance.

    This has to stop. Tim Cooks pious, ridiculous, and extreme stance on privacy is keeping Apple in the stone ages while other companies are advancing.  Tim cooks dumb privacy stance is hurting Apple:

    1. Cloud is falling behind
    2. AI research is falling behind
    3. Siri is falling behind
    4. Advertising platform is falling behind
    5. Social platforms are falling behind
    6. Apple Pay is not being accepted by most merchants (Apple does not want to give customer data)

    This needs to stop. 

    The dumbest part is most iOS users don't give a crap about what Tim Cook spews. 
    95% of iOS users either use Facebook and/or Google services.  So they actually don't give a crap about Tim Cooks extreme stance of privacy.
    You can use one service and control the data it has, while paying for another product that has more of your data but keeps it contained.

    It's a lose lose outcome for Apple if they treat their customers as users and that will tank your share value. 
    That is why Tim Cook is right to be have his "ridiculous" stance on CUSTOMER (never user) Data.
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