Posted on May 9, 2018 by staff

Google unveils AI which makes phone bookings for you


Google has unveiled a startling new artificial intelligence technology capable of making restaurant and haircut reservations over the phone on behalf of users.

Google Duplex uses a natural-sounding computer-generated voice which ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and is able to navigate complex conversations.

CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated the tech, which will be rolled out as an experiment over the coming weeks, at the tech giant’s annual IO developers conference at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California.

The ‘female’ virtual assistant first tried to book a 12pm slot at a hair salon then, when the human employee said that time wasn’t available, it suggested a window between 10am and 12pm. It then confirmed the booking and notified the user of the appointment.

In the second demo, the ‘male’ assistant tried to reserve a table at a restaurant but was told it didn’t need a booking as there were only four people in the party. The AI appeared to navigate the conversation with ease.

Pichai said that 60 per cent of small businesses in the United States don’t have an online booking system which is where real gains can be made by the Google Duplex tool.

“Done correctly, it will save time for people and generate a lot of value for businesses,” he said.

He said it will initially be used to call businesses to confirm their holiday opening times before automatically updating their information on Google’s pages. This could reduce the volume of such enquiries into a business.

Google Maps is to incorporate augmented reality to overlay information on to camera views – including restaurant and venue scores – as well as cartoon character guides when you are navigating a route on foot.

A new Google News feature – Full Coverage – was also unveiled which provides in-depth coverage around particular topics including headlines from various ‘trusted’ sources and social media posts among other relevant information.