Google is a titan among tech companies, a household name, so it comes as no surprise that they are continually developing technology to help simplify our lives both at home and everywhere else. Last month the company took a leap forward for virtual assistants by previewing Google Duplex.
Google Duplex is basically just the name for the technology behind Google’s new Assitant feature. At I/O 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai personally demonstrated phone calls made by Google Assistant, fascinating and delighting everyone in the audience.
The demonstration showed the assistant calling a hairdresser to make an appointment for a haircut. The voice of the assistant was eerily realistic as it talked to the woman, who didn’t seem to notice she wasn’t talking to another person, and it even threw in the occasional filler word like “uh” or “um” to make it even more realistic. The call concludes with the assistant successfully making the appointment for an exact time and date logged in your calendar.
Don’t buy it? Listen to the call for yourself down below:
There is also an additional call made to a restaurant to demonstrate the bot’s perception of more complex language:
You can use Google Duplex to complete three main tasks when it is made available in beta:
- schedule a hair appointment,
- make reservations at a restaurant,
- and get holiday hours of a business.
If the business you’ve asked Google Assistant to book an appointment with accepts online reservations, the Assistant will use that to complete the task. Otherwise, the Assistant/Duplex will call the business on your behalf. This takes all of the effort out of these small tasks. It’s also just wonderful for people who hate talking on the phone and a gamechanger for people with social anxiety, perhaps even travellers who don’t speak the local language.
As advanced and innovative as this new assistant may be, it has raised a lot of questions about personal privacy and the creepy element of people not knowing that they’re communicating with a bot. Google does plan on programming the bot to declare itself as Google Assistant for the sake of transparency.
The Duplex portion of Google Assistant could launch in the next few weeks as a beta, but it’s not sure when Duplex will be available in its entirety.
By Daniëlle Kruger
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