5 chatbots that made their mark in 2017

29th Dec 2017
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The year 2017 saw lots of action in the conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry. Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder & CEO, Haptik, shares his insights on 5 chatbots that made their mark in 2017.

Not only have there been hundreds of new startups, but the Big five technology giants (#AppAmaGooBookSoft) have also significantly increased their investment in this space.

However, the general consensus across the board is that the end products still do not quite match up to the hype of what the technology promises - as has always been the case for AI.

As the year comes to an end, we decided to dig deep and find a few solutions that are actually making a difference in people’s lives.

These are chatbots that are more than just fads, they’re here to stay through 2018, and for many years to come.

Woebot

The perfect therapist is always there for you, never pre-judges, doesn’t have a couch and doesn’t cost a limb. Sounds utopian, right? Guess again, because it’s real!

Woebot is a chatbot-based therapist built by a team of Stanford researchers with a strong Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework backing the chatbot. Woebot is built using a combination of natural language processing, therapeutic expertise, excellent writing, and sense of humour. The chatbot is perfect for when you want an unbiased, non-judgemental listener, especially since therapy is not widely available.

This is a boon, especially in crowded metropolitan areas where a majority of the population is the nine-to-five office goer crowd, and stress runs rampant.

In a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, out of a group of 75 participants, the 34 who spent over two weeks (up to 20 sessions) chatting with Woebot saw a “significant reduction in their symptoms of depression” as opposed to the 36 others who were given an NIMH eBook on mental health. Woebot is available on Facebook messenger, and notably has been featured in the Washington Post, LA Times, Wired, the Guardian, BBC and the MIT Technology magazines.

woebot 1

Epytom

Everyone has that one perfectly-dressed classmate or colleague with a seemingly infinite wardrobe, and a perfectly effortless look. But which regular office goer or college student has the deep pockets and an exclusive personal stylist needed to maintain this Insta-ready illusion?! This is where Epytom comes to your rescue!

Built on the notion that you only need 40 basic pieces to build the perfect wardrobe to give you over 1000 looks, Epytom engages with each user to understand their preferences, and then tailors outfits based on their likes and dislikes.

Epytom’s creator, Anastasia Sartan, has over 11 years of experience working in the fashion industry when she figured that an easily-accessible personal stylist was the one missing fashion necessity. Epytom’s tone is that of a fashion-forward BFF with emoji and colourful gifs peppering the chats. The user can choose to receive outfit recommendations from Epytom twice a week, or every single day. The bot customises outfits to every user’s preferences and lifestyle, and keeps improving over time. The bot even takes your local weather into account so you needn’t worry about being given sweater outfits on sweltering summer days!

Epytom was notably featured in Grazia, Cosmopolitan, and Elle and was even a part of Facebook’s curated Discover section. As of July 2017, the bot received roughly five million messages a month.

Epytom also raised an undisclosed amount in Angel funding on December 10, 2016.

epytom bot1

TOI Assistant

How do you make a famous news app even more addictive? You add a personal assistant to it!

User engagement is the core metric on which most apps are evaluated. The Times of India (TOI) mobile app is fairly successful in its own right especially since the newspaper is the largest selling English-language daily in the world. However, TOI wished to capitalise on its existing user base and provide features that could improve engagement by adding value to the time spent on the app.

Enter, the Haptik Assistant Solution. The simple addition of a personal assistant that could handle everything from bill payments to cab and flight booking to exclusive sales drastically improves the value proposition of the TOI app. The app is no longer a static news provider, but a full-blown utility hub. And the results are there to see. The average TOI user is 65 percent more likely to return to the app every day if she uses the Personal Assistant service versus someone who does not. The engagement levels have improved by over 35.4 percent, and that is quote a lot of happy users. Who wouldn’t like an app that can play the Jarvis to your Iron Man?!

toi bot

Tigereum

When cryptocurrency broke onto the scene, the underlying factor was a thorough understanding of the crypto market and a share market broker’s zeal to keep track of fluctuating numbers. Tigereum nullifies that need.

The chatbot makes transferring small amounts of crypto to family and friends as easy as sending an instant message. Instant money transfer platforms like Tez, PayTM, PhonePe, and more, have already made instant money transfer the de facto standard. Cryptocurrency’s decentralised blockchain architecture naturally lends itself to this medium, and Tigerium aims to lead this wave.

The year 2017 was the definitive year of Cryptocurrency with Bitcoin conversion rates hitting all-time highs, and billions being made by the minute. Tech startups, investors, MOOCs, MNCs and the average office-goer are trying their best to have a piece of the pie.

And this craze does not seem to be slowing down any time soon, and as of December 2017, there are over 1,377 growing digital currencies in existence.

Being cryptocurrency-based, the bot is country-agnostic and will function on most bot-friendly platforms including Skype, Telegram, and Slack. Its first token swap which ran from December 8 to December 18, saw over 19,743,793 tokens being allocated.

The project is currently still in the prototyping phase, but has garnered much attention for being the first to promote crypto accessibility. The app is to be launched in January 2019 after completing its integration, customer testing and beta release in 2018.

Tigereum bot 1

KLM (WhatsApp)

How many times have you scrambled around looking for your plane ticket somewhere on your email address?! Well, the KLM channel on WhatsApp could be the solution for you.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ is the oldest scheduled airline in the world still operating under its original name, and is the first airline to have a verified WhatsApp account. Every KLM customer has the option to opt-in for WhatsApp updates to receive everything from booking confirmation, check-in notifications, boarding pass, to flight status updates.

WhatsApp boasts of a 1 billion strong network of users around the globe, and businesses want a way to reach out to their customers and have an official presence. By marrying these two, WhatsApp is selectively opening up an avenue for businesses across the globe to proactively reach out and maintain customer relationships.

The KLM WhatsApp account can handle queries in Dutch, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Korean. WhatsApp being completely encrypted end-to-end, all conversations are completely secure.

The programme is currently still in the closed pilot phase, but we can be sure that there’ll be bigger players in the game in the coming days.

KLM WhatsApp 1

All in all, it’s been an eventful year in the chatbot space with companies beginning, rising, being funded, and the future of AI being defined. You can expect even more success stories, and maybe even see chatbots emerge as a mainstay for businesses everywhere. After all, when technology is the name of the game, the rules are meant to be broken.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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