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THE RISE AND RISE OF THE CHATBOT MARKET
The global market for Chatbots was estimated at US$627.7 million in 2015, according to a report released by Transparency Market Research. They estimate by 2024, the Chatbot market is expected to be worth US$7.9 billion.
MICROSOFT LAUNCHES QnA CHATBOT BUILDER
Microsoft Cognitive Services has launched a new product called QnA Maker, as an extension to its Cognitive Services. This is an easy-to-use, REST API- and web- based service that trains AI to respond to users’ questions in a conversational way. This capability enables an additional FAQ data source to use in your ChatBot code.
ChatBot Makers determine the source of their knowledge base content and, by extracting semi-structured data in the form of questions and answers in an FAQ document or webpage, the QnA Maker Service can create a knowledge base within a matter of minutes. QnA Maker works in three steps: extraction, training, and publishing. To start, feed it anything from existing FAQ URLs to documents and editorial content.
SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT ACCELERATES USE OF CHATBOTS IN PUBLIC SERVICE
The Singapore Government has been building its Conversations-as-a-Platform in partnership with Microsoft, initially to better help users navigate government e- services in a conversation style. Their Ask Jamie Chatbot uses natural language based on the Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite to understand the questions asked by the public before responding. It has already been deployed on the websites of 17 government agencies, including the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education. Ask Jamie Chatbot has been deployed using the Microsoft Bot Framework enabling it to be used in multiple-channels such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram. Plans are underway to extend this Chatbot capability for transactions and personalized services.
BAIDU LAUNCHES HEALTHCARE CHATBOTS
Baidu, the Chines search engine giant, has launched the Melody Chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to help doctors care for patients. Baidu is providing citizen healthcare self-service that includes determining whether patients need to consult with a doctor in person. For example, if you tell Melody your child is sick, it might ask whether she has a fever or is jaundiced and follow up with additional dialogue to determine the pathway and outcome. The Melody Chatbot integrates with the Baidu Doctor app, which already lets patients ask doctors questions, make appointments and search for health information. Andrew Ng, Baidu’s chief scientist, says it’s just the beginning of AI-driven healthcare.
Niki.ai RAISES FUNDS FOR ITS CHATBOT PLATFORM
The Chatbot start-up Niki.ai was incorporated on May 1st, 2015. It has already closed three rounds of funding valued at US$441 with the most recent stake coming from Ratan Tata and Roni Screwvala Unilazer Ventures.
MALL OF AMERICA CHATBOT
Mall of America has launched its E.L.F. Chatbot, which stands for the unmemorable name of Experimental List Formulator. The ELF Chatbot has been co-developed in collaboration with IBM Watson and Satisfi to help visitors plan a more
personalised experience to the shopping center by determining things like how much time they have and what activities they prefer.
MORE BRANDS ADOPT CHATBOTS WITHIN FACEBOOK
Fashion and retail brands are building more and more Chatbots using the Facebook platform. This includes Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and EBay.
CHATBOTS BEING USED FOR GIFT GUIDES
H&M and American Eagle have launched Chatbots to advise about gifts on the popular KiK messaging platform for young people.