Rise of the middleman economy – Conversational UI’s, Bots, and ChatBots

Some ramblings about Conversational UI’s, Bots, and ChatBots.

At present there is a lot of attention on Conversational User Interfaces, Bots, and ChatBots – especially interesting/exciting for those who are interested (design and build) in how people interact with computers.

To reduce ambiguity it’s worth distinguishing between ‘Chat’ and ‘Bot’. Here I consider Chat as the interaction model whose interface is predominantly through natural conversation, the medium  is the Conversational User Interface (Conversational UI  or CUI for short).
A Bot is a agent (software application/service) that can carry out a task (semi-)autonomously on behalf of the user. Therefore the ChatBot is an Bot who interfaces with the user via conversation but achieves some task autonomously.

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Using Semi-Autonomous Car Technology to Assist Visually Impaired

I’ve committed myself to writing and talking around the concepts of Micro-Interactions and Anticipatory computing and using a SmartWatches app as a vehicle to deliver the content such that it has particular relevance. The challenge is actually coming up with a compelling use-case (apart from the obvious), initially it was a Water Consumption Monitor, then a Pace Setter (i.e. allow the user to set a pace and nudge them when the user is slowing down), but then settled for a way for the user to navigate to a destination with less reliance on their SmartPhone (more on this on a later post).

This idea sparked a thought of how Smart devices (Phone/Watch/Earpiece/…) could help navigate the visually impaired around urban areas using similar techniques used by semi-autonomous cars.

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The growing need for an Advertising Broker Agent

While flicking through the news this morning I came across an article on Venture Beat talking about online advertising trends for 2014. One of those trend was the implications the absence of the cookie for targeted advertising (achieved by tracking the users past browsing), but also highlights the limitations of this approach for the new digital landscape (i.e. unable to track between devices). The article wraps-up by highlighting how internet titians are jumping in to fill this void (e.g. Clearinghouse from Mozilla, Google AdId, and others) and how this will lead to a central repository (for the user) to control privacy.

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