Aiming to make Google Assistant smarter, Google announced Tuesday (May 8) Google Duplex, a new technology for carrying out tasks over the phone using natural conversations.
In a blog post, Yaniv Leviathan, principal engineer and Yossi Matias, vice president of engineering at Google, said the artificial intelligence technology is being rolled out so that users can complete specific tasks like booking an appointment without having to adapt to the machine. Duplex is made possible thanks to a recurrent neural network that uses the output of Google’s automatic speech recognition technology as well as features from the audio, the history of conversations and the parameter of the conversations to understand natural language. Google applied other advanced technology to improve the ability to have the natural conversations. “Businesses that rely on appointment bookings supported by Duplex, and are not yet powered by online systems, can benefit from Duplex by allowing customers to book through the Google Assistant without having to change any day-to-day practices or train employees,” wrote the engineers. “Using Duplex could also reduce no-shows to appointments by reminding customers about their upcoming appointments in a way that allows easy cancellation or rescheduling.” In another example, Duplex can call a business to find out about when the store is open and then make the information available on Google, which will lower the calls on that topic to the business and make the information more accessible.
For users, Leviathan and Matias said Duplex makes life a little bit easier, since consumers don't have to make a phone call but rather interact with Google Assistant. For example, a user would ask Google Assistant for an appointment, which Assistant would then schedule by having Duplex call the business. The engineers noted that another benefit to using Duplex is that users can request communications with service providers off-hours and it will help address language barriers and allow the hearing impaired to complete tasks over the phone.
“This summer, we’ll start testing the Duplex technology within the Google Assistant to help users make restaurant reservations, schedule hair salon appointments, and get holiday hours over the phone,” wrote Leviathan and Matias. “Allowing people to interact with technology as naturally as they interact with each other has been a long-standing promise. Google Duplex takes a step in this direction, making interaction with technology via natural conversation a reality in specific scenarios.”