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Chatbots On The Rise

Chatbots are set to be the next big thing in UX, as they can be placed almost anywhere that has WiFi and can be utilised by any industry. In fact, you have probably encountered a chatbot at some point in your lifetime without realising it. Take your home assistant for example, a type of chatbot with a human voice.

On Tuesday 13 March, we held one of our regular a meet-ups featuring speakers from Orange, Oracle and Bounce. Here’s what our speakers had to say:

Chatbots in Tourism

Have you heard of the uncanny valley effect? Linus from Oracle is currently working on a chatbot in Spain which allows tourists to find things to do. Tourists ask the bot questions and it’ll reply with a few different suggestions. Granted, technology doesn’t always go to plan, so he has built in a very useful “speak to human” option. Sometimes our brains overload with frustration whilst trying to communicate with ‘robots.’ However, Linus is still in the development stage and is facing a big challenge. How he is going to overcome all of the languages barriers? Like most of us, I’m guessing he may only know one or two languages, so how will the bot detect the differences between them? It’s likely that the bot will learn to identify different languages through translating engines like Google or Microsoft and reply with simple text or pictures.

Where next for the humble text?

Text messaging has only been around for 34 years and it has grown immensely over that time. As early a 1999, you could only send text messages to people that were on the same network as you. By 2007, text messaging outnumbered the amount of phone calls we were making for the first time. 2011 saw 8 trillion texts sent worldwide with 150 billion in the UK alone. Asha, from Orange, took us on a journey on what to expect by 2019, with businesses reaching out to customers via Rich Communications Suite (RCS) chat bot messaging apps. RCS is an advanced messaging service that features video calls, group chats and read receipts among other features. It already has 157 million users and is expected to reach 1.05 billion by the end of next year due to its growing popularity.

Bots working with mental health services

Chris, from Bounce, found a gap in the market for a virtual mental health assistant that works through Facebook Messenger. It works by giving users exercises and a friend to talk to for a happier and healthier mind using positive psychology. Chris’ work is very important and hopes to address a wider issue. Mental health problems are the single largest cause of sick leave in the UK. Bounce’s aim is to help inspire and support everyone to improve their mental wellbeing. There is no interface or platform that needs to be downloaded as most will already have it on their laptops or smartphones. Furthermore, using the bounce bot is a very personal experience with the ability to give your bot a character. Plus, it will even use emojis, just as if you were texting your friends or family.

Make sure you don’t miss the next meet up. We have more exciting topics to come so stay tuned to our website to find out when the next meet up is happening. Over the coming months, we will be showcasing 2 new HACKUX hackathons; Designing Voice Interactions with Alexa and Designing Interactive Dialogues for Next Gen Messaging. In addition to all of these events, we also have new training courses at the UX Academy.

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