The software giant first demoed its Skype bots and bot platform at its annual BUILD conference, demonstrating how virtual assistants can serve a variety of functions to Skype users. New in the league are the Hipmunk bot, Skyscanner bot, StubHub bot, IFTTT bot and the Spock bot. These bots can be selected from a Skype directory and added to the user’s contacts. According to Microsoft, the more users interact with the bots, the more the bots can anticipate the user’s needs.
Now let’s look at what each of these bots can do. The Hipmunk bot is a group bot that, helps you and your friends collaborate on a task such as voting on a trip to take, or simply choosing a restaurant together. It also provides hotel and other general travel advice depending on your set preferences, like price and date.
With the Skyscanner bot, you can search for flights either individually or as part of a group, returning live prices and route options within Skype. The StubHub bot lets you discuss, locate and find the perfect concert or event ticket.
The IFTTT bot is a programmable messaging service that can channel information from other apps, devices and websites into your Skype chat. So you can use it to get news alerts, social media updates, weather updates, and even email reminders.
The Spock Bot, dubbed as “Vulcan” from Star Trek is a fun bot to kick away boredom from your everyday routine. It allows you to chat with the USS Enterprise’s second-in-command about the ways of Vulcans. So you get free Vulcan wisdom and can solve some logic problems too.
Gurdeep Pall, Vice President, Skype said:
We want bots to become the quickest way to handle simple tasks, like shopping or managing your calendar, and the most effortless way to complete complex tasks, like planning a vacation from scratch.
At BUILD 2016, Satya Nadella outlined Microsoft’s vision for Conversations as a Platform (CaaP). He explained that pairing the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence will enable organizations and consumers to get more done and have more fun, with the help of intelligent bots and digital personal assistants.
“We believe Conversations as a Platform will fundamentally change the computing experience and are committed to advancing this next frontier with intelligence that simplifies and enhances our digital interactions,” read the Microsoft blogpost.
In June, Microsoft acquired Wand Labs to accelerate their efforts in conversational intelligence and hosted the Skype Bot Hackathon in their Palo Alto office where participants worked to create a variety of bots.