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Google's Ultra-Realistic Virtual Assistant Goes Live

by Ciarán Daly
Article ImageMOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - The long-awaited Duplex virtual assistant feature has now launched for a select group of Google Pixel phone users, following its announcement by CEO Sundar Pichai at Google's I/O 2018 conference earlier this year.

Billed as a new platform to bring together all of the company’s AI efforts, Duplex is an impressive new natural language voice assistant with massive implications for businesses and consumers alike. This hyper-realistic VA is able to call businesses with no digital technology in place and book appointments, schedule meetings, and order products. Most notably, Duplex is no longer limited to businesses partnered with Google.

"We're currently ramping up the ability to book restaurant reservations through the Google Assistant over the phone using Duplex technology," a spokesperson told VentureBeat. "To deliver a good experience to Pixel users and to businesses, we're starting with a slow rollout ... and will expand to more Pixel users as we continue to ramp up."

A number of early stumbling blocks have already been identified to this end, chief among them the length of time it takes to input your reservation data, which critics say takes much longer than a phonecall at this stage of Duplex's roll-out.

As one of the likely first AI assistants to interface between consumers and businesses en masse, Duplex will no doubt be watched closely by enterprises looking to leverage their own AI solutions. Commentators anticipate some initial confusion, as restaurants are made to engage directly with an NLP-powered AI on a day-to-day basis.

Google plan to deploy the technology across physical services as well as just restaurants, with the I/O 2018 demo demonstrating its ability to reserve appointments with a hairdresser. It is unclear if, and when, Duplex will reach all Android users.





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