Dag Kittlaus, one of the co-founders of Siri, took the stage at TechCrunch to show off the rival intelligent assistant he’s been building over the last few years with Viv Labs.
Viv means “life,” and according to Kittlaus the company wants to “use this technology to breathe life into the inanimate objects and devices of our life, through conversation.” He explained that while every big tech company is investing heavily in a “race” to a singular voice interface, Viv is taking a slightly different approach in the hopes of one day being a cross-platform technology as familiar as WiFi or BlueTooth. His team is working hard to perfect the “third-party ecosystem” which will make it easy for developers to plug their services into Viv.
After a lot of talk about paradigm shifts, and a slightly awkward moment in which he accidentally referred to Viv as Siri, Kittlaus proceeded to give an impressive live demo of the technology on his iPhone. Though Viv doesn’t yet have a voice (it will in time for public release), it did a great job of understanding and responding to a series of increasingly complex spoken queries, ranging from “what’s the weather like at home today?” to “will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5pm the day after tomorrow?”
After proving Viv’s impressive natural language capabilities, Kittlaus proceeded to show how well integrated it was with a number of third-party services. He made a payment, sent some flowers, booked a hotel, and ordered an uber, all by voice in the space of about two minutes. What makes Viv different from its rivals – which tend to be hard-coded with exact responses to questions – this is a dynamic program that writes its own code on the fly in a matter of milliseconds, making it more open to growth and naturalistic conversation.
Viv Labs have reportedly shut down massive takeover bids from Google and Facebook as it attempts to build itself into what Kittlaus and co. originally intended Siri to be before they sold the technology to Apple in 2010. Check out the full video below for more from the event.