Conversational Virtual Agents and Google+

We really like the look and feel of Google+ — It will take a good half year (at least) to gain traction, but once University students start tapping into it for both academic and social applications, it could be a winner.

So, the first thought was:  Can our virtual characters and brand agents flow through Google Plus?  Looks like it’s Gtalk, where we’ve been for nearly two years. . .

So, voila!  We’re there.  What we’ll test next is how using Picasa and YouTube Links within the chat will enhance the UX  — The indication is that the files will open within Google+ and not require leaving the page. . .

Is this the only branded marketing or ad unit that can flow through Google+?  Maybe?  For mLearning?  Great potential too…

Back to testing…

Conversational Apps on Mobile — Expanding Channels and Reach

Mobile web is our core and base delivery.

But, we understand that people are using app stores for Search at a level nearly equal to mobile web search.

So, about two months ago, we added Android delivery to the mix.

In the past week, we’ve now tested and are pleased to add Windows/Mobile and MeeGo — and, Barnes and Noble’s NOOK, to our mix of delivery channels; for both Tablets as well as phones. And, we’ve undertaken a fascinating test to delivery our mobile web pages through a mobile chat Client — Not merely the chat, but, the full page experience, including animation and graphics; providing a wide reach to low-level data plan users.

So, where’s iOS in all this? Well, iOS users can always reach us via mobile web. But, we’re also working on a solution specifically for iOS that doesn’t require a full rebuild simply to reach a couple of devices.

More to follow…

AdTech 2011…New Products … Uniquely Mobile Experiences

AdTech 2011 in San Francisco last week offered up a lot to consider with regard to both mobile publishing (our mLearning B2C initiatives) as well as a mobile technology and service provider for marketing, advertising and entertainment applications.

One big take-away was that a number of established, online advertising platforms are only beginning to wrap their heads around mobile – all too frequently, they are not grasping the unique User Experience that mobile requires, as they rush to port old static web solutions to mobile.

That said, there were a few gems in the mix as well as a number of prospective relationships where the contentAI platform is complementary and delivers a uniquely mobile User Experience, adding value to both the Brand and User.

One significant result that emerged from assessing the market during AdTech was the need to scale an economical product specific to delivery of FAQ” pages on mobile sites and apps.  Please see more on this offering HERE. While we will offer this direct to clients, it is also an offering designed for mobile web and mobile app developers to plug-in to their tool kit.  FAQ pages are a part of our web life; but, on mobile, they are nearly impossible to read and navigate.  While these are not “storied” experiences, the contentAI platform is ideally suited to provide a cost effective solution for mobile sites and apps that need to present FAQ data in an easy to use interface.

Conversational Virtual Agents, Mobile and Visual Avatars…

Over at Forrester, Diana Clarkson’s blog brought up an interesting topic – What should avatars look like for virtual agents?

http://blogs.forrester.com/diane_clarkson/11-03-09-what_should_a_virtual_agent_look_like

As you can see, or not see, we don’t incorporate visual avatars with our contentAI virtual agents, characters or mLearning applications (See:  ESLai.com)

Why not?  Especially since the Principals of the company come from a deep motion picture and CGI background?

Basically, the technology isn’t good enough right now for real-time, on the fly,  virtual avatars.  Yes, we could pre-render much of them and pull off some fancy tricks to cover text-to-speech realtime adjustments — But, we don’t find this to be satisfying for the end user.  Frequently, the end user doesn’t want to turn up the volume and listen – Nor do they want to watch…when reading allows them to quickly scan/read or look away and return to the content on their own schedule.

As one comment on the Forrester blog mentions, using the dialogue itself to paint the picture for the end user is consistent with our approach.  The end user’s imagination fills in many blanks.  As we review the (anonymous) chat logs and see 10-20 minute sessions, we know the end user is “buying into” the experience without the aid of a cartoonish animation.

Our preference is for incorporating a video, audio or still image within the first step of a chat session to “establish” the experience, then, let the User create their own “vision” from there.  This also personalizes the user experience more than if we provided a simplistic visual.

We did like the follow up COMMENT from Clarkson on the post:

“I think we’ll see a lot of interesting developments in the virtual agent space with mobile in the coming year.”

In our opinion, that’s starting today!  Right here.

 

New User Interface on Mobile Web Conversational Marketing Channel

The new graphical elements and user navigation only available on client projects has now been applied to our online demos.

The graphical enhancement allows more branding and user call-to-action features on the Landing Page.  The user navigation revision streamlines the actual chat experience and accelerates the user experience by over 50% — Also, making it more intuitive, as the User now can read and respond from the same page.

Want to take a look?  The mobile web URLs are below — Send them to your phone and enjoy:

SHOPGIRL: http://m.contentAI.com

CAPNWAG: http://cw.contentAI.com

MYSANTATALK: http://m.mysantatalk.com

And, coming soon!  Two mobile web ESL conversational simulations (from:  http://ESLai.com).

The Cereal Aisle: Flashing Lights or Conversation?

This post caught our attention:

http://calorielab.com/news/2011/01/13/fulton-innovation-and-ecoupled-ces-2011/

Specifically, the “light up cereal boxes” of the “future!” — This envisions (delivers) a future where visual, digital triggers are even more all-pervasive than the vision of BLADE RUNNER.

It’s cool.  It’s clever.  It will get my attention once or twice — But, end of the day, it’s NOISE.  I will learn to filter it out.

“Conversation” is quieter.  It is opt-in.  It is signal, not noise.

It can be like a whisper, where someone must lean-forward and actually engage.

Now, if the conversation could trigger a light-show or indoor fireworks show, perhaps that would be the best of both worlds — but, we continue to believe that in-store (to mobile) should start with a conversation.

New Year. . .New Features. . .Conversational Mobile Marketing Evolves

That was quite a lag in blog posts. The Holidays took over (after an exceptionally busy December, in part, due to the consumer-facing MySantaTalk app); then, CES (yes, lots of tablets and 3D TV, but, in general, not the most exciting CES; some work in mobile health felt pretty substantial and game changing).

What’s up here?

We’ve realized that the perception of our platform is more “how do we compare to apps?” than “how do we compare to text messaging?” — The inclusion of rich media elements in our content, really, remove us from the text-communication space, even though that is the core of our platform.

To that end, we are in the process of enhancing the overall design and user navigation of the mobile web interactive chat experience. Watch for updates throughout Q1.

In the interim, as MySantaTalk prepares to take a rest for the year — There’s a short, mobile web, demo that features our favorite fictional brand character: Capn’ Wag — As a demo of fun, intelligent packaging for kids, we hope you enjoy. Access is found on: http://contentai.com/demos/capnwag Or, just scan the QR code below:

Our Conversational AI Holiday App Gets a Shoutout – My Santa Talk

We appreciate the post from @textually for our MY SANTA TALK property that’s in the public wild’s for the Holidays.  To clarify, only the URL is sent via SMS.  The interactive chat and story is mobile web only (so that it includes graphics and video)…

Here’s the Link and the write up:

Thanks Emily!

Why Mobile Virtual Agents Matter — Shoppers Prefer Smartphones to Store Associates

The headline from MOBILE COMMERCE – INTERNET RETAILER says it all:

Shoppers would rather use smartphones than consult store associates, survey finds

http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/12/06/shoppers-would-rather-use-smartphones-store-associates

This was based on “archive and search” solutions, not our drill-down and deliver contextually relevant information via “conversation.”  Which, we believe will extend this user preference.

It’s an excellent indication for our business that virtual clerks and mobile engagement with contextually relevant conversational experiences will be part of everyone’s typical shopping experience in the very near future.

That said, we feel that Retailers should find a method to balance and use “live” Store associates in an entirely new blend of virtual/smartphone and human engagement.  BEST BUY’S @twelpforce initiative that’s gone on for over a year is an interesting model to consider; however, our position is that the @twelpforce knowledge should be automated and constantly updated, so that an “ultimate” virtual sales associate could handle the online and mobile, and the humans could concentrate on the real world engagements.

Conversational AI – Wide Ranging Applications

Today was one of those days when the human conversations about “conversational AI” spanned a very wide range.

Interestingly, our MY SANTA TALK application works well as an example for both intelligent packaging and brand customer relations as well as for conversational mLearning, particularly ESL (See our ESL initiatives at:  http://ESLai.com).  Our SHOPGIRL application also is a terrific example of a very concise engagement that can work for both commercial and educational applications.

As we see sessions running from 8-19 minutes on the MY SANTA TALK app,  clearly, we’re engaging and holding the user’s attention.  Our original projections were that 5 minutes would be the maximum mobile web engagement period.  We were wrong.

We haven’t posted anything recently about mLearning — Our ESLai.com site has not been migrated over to mobile web applications — but, one of the primary reasons we embarked on mobile web delivery was around mLearning — the ability to incorporate graphics and video easily within the interactive chat creates a complete learning experience.

More updates soon.