I was walking through our street the other day when I observed something really peculiar, which forced me to start thinking about the growth that the software industry has made in the last decade. What I noticed was simply that everyone in the neighborhood had a smartphone in their hands, even people from the older generation. But the thing that surprised me the most was that most of them were not even touching their devices, they were simply talking to it.
At a Microsoft’s build conference, CEO Satya Nadella said that the future of Microsoft was “conversation as platform” and if Nadella thought he was expressing some really unique version of the future, let me tell you that he was just fooling himself.
The idea of conversational interfaces has been in our society for more than 15 years now.
If it’s been here for over 15 years, why are we hearing about this now? Is that the question that just popped into your mind? Well the answer to that question, is that the technology needed to make the idea practical has just gotten good enough.
What are Conversational Interfaces?
Well, a conversational interface is any kind of UI that can mimic chatting or talking to a real human in that human’s language. The idea behind it is, that instead of communicating with a computer on its inhuman terms (Such as by entering Syntax-specific commands) you can interact with it in your own language, by just telling it what to do.
We have seen two kinds of conversational interfaces till now, the first are voice assistants, which you talk to, such as Siri by Apple, Cortana by Microsoft, Google Now by Google or Echo by Amazon and the second are chatbots, which you type to, such as M by Facebook or Slackbot by Slack.
In simple words it is a kind of software which allows us to give a command to our device without using the device’s language but the language we prefer.
Why are Conversational Interfaces important?
Well there are loads of reasons, for one they are cross platform and work well everywhere, including smartphones, smartwatches, desktops, even devices without a screen at all (Amazon Echo). It also means that it would be easier for people to accomplish their task without creating a fuss.
But the biggest reason is that Conversational Interferences have the potential to demolish the difficulty faced by the people while either using a desktop or a smartphone or any other device. In a nutshell, Conversational interference can break the so called “generation gap” we have between our parents.
It has limitless applications. From calling someone to ordering a pizza, or booking a movie ticket or planning vacation or even buying a car is now possible by just a conversation with your phone.
And in the future, we may even accomplish the unthinkable.
About the Author
Hersh Singh (SD College 32)