Optus is building its own Siri to sit in calls

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Optus is building its own Siri to sit in calls

Exclusive: Natural language chatbot to access third-party services.

Optus' innovation lab is building a digital assistant that will allow customers to query third-party services from within a phone call.

Optus' answer to Siri, tentatively dubbed Optus AI, taps into services - provided through an API - by developers once it is summoned into a conversation and asked a question.

It would allow smartphone users to access the voice-activated digital assistant without having to leave the phone call to switch to a separate application.

The proprietary digital assistants currently available on iOS and Android devices aren't able to be used whilst the phone owner is on a call.

The Optus natural language assistant - which is currently asking for beta testers - offers an open API to developers to connect their services to the bot.

"All you need is to build a simple http service," according to Optus' Yes Lab.

Smartphone users summon the bot by saying its name at any point during their phone conversation.

The Optus Yes Lab team held an event for developers to showcase the technology and "have a go" at building their own services in late October, offering a voucher for free access to co-working space TwoSpace for each functioning application that was built.

Optus declined to provide detail on the technology, saying only that the product was in "the very early stages".

"We are working with developers to build our capabilities," a spokesperson said.

"The technology is being developed and tested within a laboratory setting.

"As development is in its early stages, the capabilities of the technology are not yet clear."

It declined to detail how the bot would present a response to a query, or how data generated from the searches would be stored and used. 

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