Saturday, February 18, 2017

Idea # 1 – talking bot !

(I write about few of my ideas, which anyone can pick-up and realize, if interested. The ‘Idea’ article series present some possibilities with technology that could become reality in future)

Aritificial Intelligence (AI) is getting into mainstream and top-notch companies and startups are competetively working hard to improve technologies and create products that could be useful for individuals or enterprises. From healthcare to home automation, manufacturing to gaming, transportation to digital assistants, AI is showing positive impact. AI was long-back realized in the form of Robots, which have got advanced in the Industrial automation domain but yet to show promise and applications in the personal space. While home appliances, smartphones and digital assistants are advancing their smart-capabilities rapidly, their adoption may not happen at the same pace.

The idea here is to come up with a ‘talking bot’, which can listen, understand and respond to a kid, all by voice, while being a good companion.

This bot would not dance, run or even walk. As the name says, it mainly TALKS ! Of course, it also listens, understands and stores information. It can be given to children in the age-group of 7 to 17, but initial setup has to be done by the parents or appropriate adults. The bot should be a specific-purpose device, unlike a smartphone.

Bot should be small in size & portable (around 500 gms), should have variants in physical appearances, must be re-chargeable, should have considerable storage capacity, must be made-up of harmless material, must have in-built microphone and speaker, could have LED indicators and must have a set of pleasant voices to choose. It should be pre-configured not to mention any inappropriate content for a given age. The bot should be able to provide enhanced capabilities with software updates over the air.

As usual, one’s bot should be trained for a specific voice input so that she responds only to that person’s voice. Kids should be able to use it in one of the following three modes

conversation mode (activated by saying ‘let’s talk’)

  • kid should be able to interact with bot about normal, everyday conversations – what’s your favorite color? how did you come to earth? what would you like to have for dinner?
  • bot should be able to answer pleasantly and give creative answers. It must also understand the preferences, feelings, lingo and moods of the kids while sensing timing, location and other external factors
  • based on the mood, timing and other context, bot should ask appropriate questions – how was your day today? did you eat healthy food today? what’s the best thing that happened to you this week? when was the last time you helped someone?
  • kid should be able to talk about small secrets – am angry with dad today, I am scared of darkness, I am going to give a surprise to grandpa on his birthday, these are my best friends etc
  • bot should be able to take commands and execute them – set alarm, remind about event at a time, remind me to carry library book to school tomorrow etc
  • remind about events as requested earlier – tasks, birthdays etc

story mode (activated by saying ‘tell a story’)

  •  kid should be able to mention a theme and bot should tell a story around the same
  • kid should be able to provide some keywords – lion, forest, village, food, happy – and bot should weave and tell a story with those keywords
  • should be able to suggest appropriate books, movies, tv series based on age, gender and environment factors

info mode (activated by saying ‘help me’)

  • bot should be able to answer questions related to facts – tell me a few words about gandhi? why did world war two happen? what is the time now? how is the weather tomorrow? name some freedom fighters in indian independence struggle? how does a refrigerator work? how many elements are there in periodic table? get me a quote by Steve Jobs?
  • bot should be able to retrieve info over internet from service providers or from built-in modules (monetization avenues)

Kids should be able to command the bot to ‘stop talking’ by saying so at any time. Bot should be able to understand the language, dialect and accent spoken by the kid and respond in a manner that the kid understands. Bot should also keep learning continuously from the ealier interactions with the kid. Of course, parents can always get a report of how the bot is used.

This bot could complement the learning that kid undergoes at school and improves his listening, comprehension and debating skills. This bot could be the modern-day genie that answers most of the questions for the kid and be his personal companion.

With fast-pace advancements in science & technology and its impact in different sectors, kids should have appropriate aids to speed-up their learning, while reducing the stress and driving innovation further in future.