Reach the top? Time to play a new game
Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Macbook were all innovative at their release, but now the updates to them seem kind of predictable. It makes sense they might be looking for a new area to innovate in, and they may have found it in AI.
Siri is already part of so many households and families. My kids inexplicably call her “Dexter” and I have to shoo them away from the iPad because they’ve learned that she’s great at answering first grade math questions.
VocalIQ: Apple’s most recent acquisition
But beyond arithmetic and amusing Game of Thrones anecdotes, Siri isn’t really the witty, capable AI companion we’ve all been looking forward to since the SciFi movies of our youth (Just me?). But all that might change soon with Apple’s recent acquisition of the startup VocalIQ.
VocalIQ was a startup so good at AI that Apple bought it before they could release even a beta version of their platform.
In almost every test the VocalIQ beat every big name AI including Apple, Google, and Amazon.
What makes it so fancy?
What sets VocalIQ apart is the ability to process complex requests and, more importantly, remember and learn from the context of those requests. Other AI programs have attempted that, but without the ability to carry the context of what the program learned from session to session.
So not only can you say something like “Find me a coffee shop with wifi near my office” but you can add “actually change that to a taco place” and it will remember that you want wifi near your office.
That’s a huge breakthrough for AI and “virtual assistant” software across the board.
VocalIQ was designed to process “natural language” and used contractors working through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to feed VocalIQ requests so it could learn. After 3,000 requests it’s accuracy was already astonishing. After 10,000 it was doing better than Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.
It can only get better from here
Siri gets about a billion queries a week but hasn’t managed to translate that into the kind of efficiency apple can expect now that they’ve acquired VocalIQ’s technology.
What comes next? Apple is expected to let developers use Siri commands for third party apps, so you can tell Siri to call you an Uber, order food, or check facts. As for rolling out this new conversationally savvy AI, Apple might introduce changes gradually to make the general population comfortable with the new dialogic superpower in their pocket.