A new paradigm for using the Internet is about to begin: Virtual Assistants (VA’s) are coming to a mobile device near you.
This week, a stealth startup will demonstrate the first public version of their mobile virtual assistant, Siri. This may mark the beginning of the era of consumer-grade virtual assistants on the Web.
When the iPhone was announced, and subsequently released, there were lots of folks that didn’t get it. They didn’t get past the fact that it was a phone. They didn’t get past the fact that it was an iPod. They didn’t understand the significance of making the internet always accessible. There still are folks that don’t seem to get it. However, there also were lots of folks that did get it and are really getting just how big a deal this device is and how much has changed and will change because of it. (Think handheld communicator/tri-corder devices in Star Trek.)
In a few short years, there will be a clear delineation of the techno-timeline, pre-iPhone and post-iPhone. Siri is the type of application that truly begins to harness the power of a device that knows who you are, where you are, what you like, etc. and can actually assist you in such ways as to make life a little easier. Still not sure how this might work. Read through the next section which is a quote from the article over at TechCrunch.
Siri also takes advantage of information from your mobile device about your GPS location and time information about the your present context. These enable Siri to localize information.
For example, while you are out and about you can use Siri to discover a great place to eat, get tickets to a show, plan your weekend, or get help finding your way around town. Simply ask Siri, what movies are showing, and it will show you movies that are near your location and that you can still get to. Or ask it about restaurants and it will suggest restaurants you might like near your present location.
Beyond simply suggesting things to do, Siri can also do the legwork of making reservations, and orchestrating your plans, across multiple different services.
For example, suppose you want to book dinner and a movie – Siri can do it for you, as a single transaction, making sure that dinner is near enough to the movie that you can reasonably accomplish both without rushing or being late.
Siri knows about events in your area, things to do, what’s happening. It also knows about your personal context (your location, your current time of day), your preferences, and your personal information that you share with it.
By combining knowledge of your local situation and your personal profile, Siri is able to help you complete tasks – like finding a cool thing to do on a Sunday afternoon – in ways that are uniquely targeted to your particular interests and personality.
Doesn’t that sound pretty cool? Pretty amazing?!? It does to me. The thought of being able to pose a question to my virtual assistant and then have answers that are already filtered and tailored for who I am, my likes/dislikes, etc. could be a big time saver. Saving time means getting more done, hopefully. It also means more time to spend with family and friends enjoying life. Don’t get lost in cool technology. I sometimes find myself really stoked over the latest and greatest. But, at the end of the day, the excitement isn’t about the technology in and of itself, is it? For me, it’s about how that technology can help me be more productive. Be more focused. Be a better husband, father, friend and business owner. What about you?