Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Alquist PF 2019, the Alexa Prize Finalist.

Alquist PF 2019

We have been second in a row in the Alexa Prize out of more than 100 academic teams with our social bot Alquist. Last month the students received a 100K USD prize during the Amazon re:Invent 2018 conference in Las Vegas. We are back in CTU CIIRC, in our lab again. During the long overseas flights, we started to think what to do next. We want to present our technology in a slightly different, but more entertaining form. The end of the year, the holiday season is a great chance to engage with our friends, partners, students, all people. It was a simple decision. We have prepared an interactive PF 2019, a sneak preview of how creative we can be with the Conversational AI.

Recently Amazon updated Echo Show, and Google introduced the Google Home Hub. These, screen equipped devices, are combining the Conversational AI with visual to make the user experience even more engaging. In Alquist, we believe in multimodal interfaces too. The most ubiquitous multimodal device is definitely a smartphone. The trend is clear. Google and Apple are continually reporting increasing numbers of voice interactions.

Currently, our demo needs the Chrome browser. It is a limitation, but you can run it on a smartphone and on a desktop either on macOS or Windows. One of the big problems for the Google Home or Alexa is the discoverability. Choosing the smartphone and the browser we can post just a link, no installation is required. We are not bound to existing platforms. The user only needs to allow the browser to access the mic. We still do not support the iPhone, which is not allowing the mic access. If you own an Android smartphone, you are only one click away. Try it!

We have partnered with Dazzle Pictures. They created a fantastic animation in zero time, and we designed and implemented the dialogs. At first glance, it may seem pretty simple answering ambiguously, but do not be mistaken. Give it a try, test it! For example, Alquist understands the standard English set of names only. Try how the dialog changes if it does not recognize your name correctly. Discover how the snowman replies once you utter something not understandable. We also handle a positive and negative message etc.  Have fun and let us know what you think!

Check out also our first video supported demo the Alquist Story. It is high quality movie with real actors introducing Alquist. You can also ask many questions about Karel Capek. It took us a very long time to get it to a reasonable shape. We spend time shooting the movie, a lot of time in post processing and we had to overcome various technical problems too. On the other hand the animated PF 2019 was a quick shot, all was prepared, in good shape.

We believe there are many opportunities for using our technology in many different business segments. We can imagine answering product questions, ask users for preferences, help set up devices, etc. We are looking for more ideas about how to commercialize our know-how.  Help us to discover new opportunities!

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