Smart Virtual Personal Assistants

SVPAs started entering the market in 2013. At the time, they used semantic and natural language processing; data mined from our calendars, email, and contact lists; and the last few minutes of our behavior to anticipate the next 10 seconds of our thinking. Most of those original apps have now been acquired. Emu was acquired by Google, Donna was acquired by Yahoo, Cue was acquired by Apple…and the list goes on. When it was still active, Emu was a clever stand-in for a personal secretary. It would monitor the conversation and automatically make suggestions as two people texted. For example, if you asked your friend to see a movie, Emu would immediately geolocate both of you, suggest a nearby theater and show films and times, then check your calendars for your availability. It would even display a preview for you to watch. Once it determined the best time for you to meet, it would help you purchase tickets and enter all the data into your calendar. And it did all of this inside a single mobile application. In 2015, consumers will begin to see SVPA technology baked into their mobile phones. For example, Google is quietly starting to release a new SVPA function for Android users: it automatically detects when you’ve parked your car, marks your parking spot for you on a Google map, and helps get you back to it once you’re ready to start driving again. All without you explicitly asking it to do so. Marketers, credit card companies, banks, local government agencies, political campaigns, and many others can harness SVPAs to both deliver critical information and to better read and understand constituents.

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