Google has signed a deal to acquire a company called API.AI that makes chatbot technologies in a clear move to challenge Facebook and Microsoft.
Chatbots are seen as an increasingly important way to allow people to interact with devices and systems without the need for human agents, at least in the initial stages of the conversation.
Facebook and Microsoft have already touted their efforts in this market, and Google's acquisition of API.AI shows clearly that the firm does not want to be left behind, as Google vice president of engineering Scott Huffman explained in a blog post.
“API.AI has a proven track record for helping developers design, build and continuously improve their conversational interfaces,” he said, noting that over 60,000 developers already use the firm’s systems.
“API.AI offers one of the leading conversational user interface platforms and will help Google empower developers to continue building great natural language interfaces.”
Meanwhile, API.AI CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn said that joining Google will bring the firm’s technology to a far larger audience and ensure that the potential of chatbot technology can prove its worth in numerous areas.
“We’ve been constantly impressed by the fast and energetic adoption of the technology from people building conversational interfaces for chatbots, connected cars, smart home devices, mobile applications, wearables, services, robots and more," he said.
“Our vision has been to make technology understand and speak human language, and help developers build truly intelligent conversational interfaces for their products and services.”
Facebook and Microsoft are already pushing heavily into this market. Facebook unveiled its efforts earlier this year with Bots for the Messenger Platform.
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