Inspirations and ideas
At Labs we chat a lot. We use Slack, we use Skype, we use Telegram, we even use Facebook’s Messenger. And all of those now support chat bots. So, it was natural that we start building our own. The idea started out a couple of months ago when we made a Slack webhook called Njam Njam that informs us when our lunch is ready.
Along the way we found ourselves interested in the whole idea behind conversational UIs, AI and natural language processing. So, we wanted not just to make a couple of bots, but to go deeper. So our research started, we read a lot about Conversational UI/AI, we read a lot about bots and we tried many of them.
What it does
We made a few prototypes, some made no sense and ended up as fun experiments, while a few ended being useful and liked by people. Here are some of our trials.
We tested the waters in AI with our first bot, using Wit.ai for language processing. The idea was a facebook page bot for answering commonly asked questions. It could understand questions like “Where do you ship to?”, “Can I pay with my credit card?” and “What time do you close?”. Wit’s language processing allowed us to understand questions formed both as “Do you ship to Serbia?” and “Where can you ship me your products?” which really is the essence of chatbots. In fact, the bigger of creating a bot is training the AI behind it.
Our favourite bot so far is a movie-suggesting bot. After we got to know the Messenger platform and the basics of building bots through our previous experiments, building this was fairly quick. We ended up with our simple bot getting approved and receiving fairly enthusiastic feedback from our friends.
Right now there is a lot of potential for growth in chatbots. Some of it lays in AI and language processing, which are very current fields and will see a lot of advances in the near future. In the present though, perhaps the potential for businesses might be in simple, clear, conversational interfaces, not AI. Our experimentation continues. In the mean time, you’re welcome to get a movie suggestion.