After birthing a virtual assistant that knows a little of everything, SRI International is working on ones that know a lot about just one thing. SRI the creators of SIRI believes it can infuse AI into even more settings—shopping, banking, travel, business-to-business applications, and so on—allowing for deeply knowledgeable chatbots that know how to carry a conversation. The goal, says William Mark, SRI's president of information and computing services, is to have assistants that are much better at specific tasks than a general-interest assistant like Siri.
Local deals and discounts company Retale has launched its own chatbot on Facebook Messenger called RetaleBot. Retale works with more than 1,000 US retailers to provide users with promotional information about stores close to their location, including major brands like Target, Best Buy, and Macy's. The new chatbot will provide up-to-date, localized information on current promotions or store information to its users, either when prompted or on a subscription-basis.
Mobile payments startup Niki launched its Facebook Messenger bot today which helps people in India hail a cab, order food, and pay for laundry or the electricity bill, among other things. Niki lets users pay for services directly in chat via PayTM without having to leave Facebook Messenger.