APIs do all the work in the era of virtual assistants and artificial intelligence

Virtual assistants are one of the most promising branches of artificial intelligence and the world of the Internet of Things. The relationship between human beings and machines has enormous potential, and one company that has successfully exploited it is Dialogflow.

29 Nov. 2019

Siri, Cortana, Google Now… Apple, Microsoft, Google… Virtual assistants are today a very promising development scenario for big technology. But not only big technology. There are also numerous companies with projects to universalize virtual assistants within the conversational platform sector, and what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). One of them –possibly the best known– is Dialogflow, the application programming interface for the design of chatbots with natural language processing.

A large part of the income generated in the IoT sector will go towards developing applications, smart systems and devices, and platform-related services, including conversational platforms which set up a link between a mobile device, an application and a user interface. There are numerous studies on the future outlook of the Internet of Things, like the one prepared by the consulting company IDC. A forecast of the revenues::

According to IDC estimates, in 2013 there were 9,000 installed Internet of Things devices in the world. By 2020, this figure will have risen to 28 billion.

Although the IoT market is promising, the specific sector of virtual smart assistants is not far behind. A recent report by Transparency Market Research outlines some business forecasts for the period between 2014 and 2022: market value up from 580 billion dollars in 2014 to 5.1 billion in 2022, with an annual compound growth rate of 31.8%. According to the study, this increase is due to the spectacular boom in data and the fact that a number of e-commerce companies, banks and healthcare organizations need to improve their relationship with their customers through the use of chats and virtual assistants (chatbots) –although there are limitations in terms of costs and complexity.

Dialogflowi aims to revolutionize virtual assistants

Dialogflow enjoys enormous prestige within the virtual assistant sector, largely due to its great flexibility. Siri, Cortana and Google Now may be good technology products, each with their strong and weak points, but they can't do what Dialogflow does: enable third companies and their development teams to customize the design of their own assistants with a set of Software Development Kits (SDK) for Android and iOS operating systems.

And these are not the only operating systems or platforms with which Dialogflow can potentially integrate: this is also possible with Windows Phone; Apple Watch; JavaScript interpreter on the Node.js server side; the Apache Cordova application development framework; the 3D Unity videogame development environment; and programming languages such as C#, Python or JavaScript. It can also connect to other assistants such as Amazon Echo or Microsoft Cortana.

These are some of the features its API REST can offer companies:

Dialogflow is a platform that understands natural language. The service has basically three components: voice recognition (voice to text, text to voice, and automatic speech recognition or ASR through customized and dynamic language models), understanding natural language, and conversational capacity (the idea that the assistant understands the meaning and the intention of voice commands and generates appropriate responses through the different dialogue channels).

● Dialogflow has integrations for conversational platforms: thanks to this it can develop bots that are able to convert and distribute information in chat applications such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram, LINE and Kik, VoIP platforms like Skype, cloud services such as Twilio, and well-known productivity platforms like Slack. 

● Dialogflow is a multilanguage solution: available in 14 languages.

The platform is based on a series of clearly defined concepts:

Agents: a company's developers can train and try out an agent and then incorporate it in any application or device.

Entities: the interpretation of user messages is based on key words or concepts that summarize the main ideas in each statement.  

Intentions: this is what allows the software to generate suitable responses to its interpretation of the natural language in the user's statements.

Actions: the steps an application follows based on the user's inputs. 

Contexts: chains that represent the current context of the user's expressions. This is important for differentiating the exact meaning of a statement that may be confusing or have a similar meaning to others.

 

There are other companies such as x.ai, Clara Labs and Zoom.ai within the world of virtual assistants, focusing on organizing and scheduling meetings, supporting employees, collecting and distributing data on services like metrics tools such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel, on-demand CRM solutions like Salesforce, and productivity tools like Slack. This is the future of bots and assistants, and nothing they enable third companies to do could be done without APIs.

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