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Viv champions 'conversational commerce'

News, 13 May 2016

NEW YORK: Viv – a new voice-controlled, digital personal assistant from one of the creators of Apple's Siri – could kick-start moves towards true "conversational commerce" when it launches later this year.

Dag Kittlaus, Co-Founder/CEO of Viv – which is set to be officially rolled out towards the end of 2016 – gave the first public demonstration of the product at TechCrunch's Disrupt NY 2016 conference.

And he showed how it could be used to book hotel rooms, order flowers, transfer money and request an Uber car in less than two minutes through a mix of natural-language voice commands and simply pressing a confirmation button on a smartphone.

"Where we put our emphasis on the initial development of this is something we call 'conversational commerce'," he said. (For more, including indications on the future role of online search in the world of personal assistants, read Warc's exclusive report: Welcome to Viv and real-time "conversational commerce".)

"The goal here is: how easy can you make it to get things done by talking to things … It's just going to make things that are generally mundane and task-heavy much easier to do."

Viv's software is so sophisticated that it can take consumers directly to a list of products from a company like ProFlowers with the simple instruction, "Send my mom some flowers for her birthday."

And having been presented with an initial list of options, the selection can be further refined by making requests such as, "What about tulips?", with Viv also using available data to automatically fill in the address and even suggest a message.

Furthermore, and similar to other artificial intelligence-tools like IBM's Watson, Viv – which can be installed on multiple device types – will "learn" over time as users engage in various kinds of interaction.

"Every time you're asking for something, you don't have to explain every bit of detail. It starts to know you like a real assistant might. Really, it's an efficiency gain," Kittlaus said.

"You want your assistant to learn from you. You want it to learn your preferences. You want it to know if you like aisle seats or window seats if you're on a plane.

"Or once it learns about your food preferences, you want it to be able to find you a restaurant in an unfamiliar area."

Data sourced from Warc