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A Siri challenger emerges. Meet Evi.

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Interetsting news from MIT's Technology Review (Link to full article here.)

New Virtual Helper Challenges Siri

An app named Evi uses semantic data to provide a wider range of answers.

Friday, January 27, 2012  By Rachel Metz


The market for sweetly named smart-phone assistants is heating up, as Siri, Apple's iPhone-based virtual helper, just got a new "frenemy" named Evi.

Created by True Knowledge, a Cambridge, U.K.-based semantic technology startup, Evi, like Siri, can answer questions posed aloud in a conversational manner. But unlike Siri, which is only loaded on the latest iPhone, Evi is available as an app for the iPhone and phones running Google's Android software.

Siri and other personal assistants are still fairly limited. As they become more popular, established companies and startups will need to expand the range of tasks they can perform. True Knowledge is hoping the semantic database it has built up over the past few years could provide this edge.

Evi's availability and promise as an artificial intelligence app, coupled with its low price (99 cents on the iPhone and free on Android phones), caused its popularity to skyrocket following its Monday release, and made it difficult for those downloading it to try it out.  Evi isn't the only Siri competitor—and in fact its capabilities are somewhat different from Siri's offerings—but plenty of smart-phone users, it seems, are eager for Evi's help in particular.

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Seemed cool enough to drop a dollar to get it on my iPhone just to see. (It's free for Android. Are we surprised?)

I asked it: what is donationcoder?

It answered:, the website hosting a community of programmers and software fanatics.

Not bad! Dunno if I'd completely agree with that characterization since DC is so much more than that. But close enough. And correct as far as it goes.

A few quick questions yielded up mostly correct and useful answers along with some spectacular failures. Trick questions sometimes produced unexpected and very funny answers. But only about a third of the time. It is easy to deliberately confuse Evi. But considering how this type of search technology is in its earliest adolescence, that's hardly surprising. Straightforward technical and academic questions were either correctly answered or redirected to site(s) hosting the correct answers more often than not.

It's somewhat flawed overall. Your Google/Bing/DDG search skills aren't obsolete yet. But for what and where it currently is, Evi is quite impressive.

Right now it's more of a cool toy to play with rather than a serious tool. But with luck it won't remain so forever.

Fun! I'm gonna have to play with this some more... :)

It looks like we have cloned a whole new species!  Maybe we should ask ourselves about this new kind of monstors!   :D

^William Gibson called them "ghosts" (indulging in a little wordplay on 'ghost in the machine') in his book Mona Lisa Overdrive.

A ghost was a personal assistant visible only to the person it belonged to. It was the ultimate personal info assistant. It could look things up, find things out, remind you of appointments, make excuses for you...basically the personal secretary every busy person could have ever hoped for.

Evi ain't that by a long shot.  ;D

My personal dream is getting something like the Librarian in Neal Stephenson's sci-fi masterpiece Snow Crash. If you haven't read this book yet - do so!

Stephenson posited a world where knowledge workers "goggle-in" to a computer generated 3D world called the Metaverse. (After you read this book you'll swear this was where Second Life got its inspiration from.) The Metaverse is a mashup of everything you'd ever do online. It's the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Steam, online shopping, web-enabled remote access and control, YouTube, NetFlix, Google, and several other things that haven't been engineered yet. And you interact with it by putting on goggles and using a 3D avatar instead of a keyboard and mouse. No brain implants required. This technology uses eye-tracking and other kinesthetic cues picked up by a camera mounted in every laptop which allows you to control your online avatar. After you get used to it, it becomes almost subconscious and automatic. Like walking or swimming or riding a bike.

Very cool. And very doable - even with today's technology.

Note: Google has the whole book up online. To get a sample of what the Librarian is, go here, navigate back to page 106 and start reading from where it says: He is no longer connected to the network by a fiber optic cable... and start reading.

Maybe we should ask ourselves about this new kind of monstors!   :D-techidave (February 01, 2012, 11:22 AM)
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No need, we can ask Evi.

Someone please come up with Ask Jenny  :D


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