Viv shows off voice-controlled hotel booking via Hotels.com [VIDEO]

Viv, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup, gave its first public demonstration of its voice-controlled assistant on Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, the annual industry conference.

Viv aspires to use its technology to make travel booking nearly as fast as saying “Find me somewhere to go with my husband the third week of May in Mexico.”

Viv’s demo drew a lot of attention because some of its developers previously created the technology behind Apple’s Siri, a first-generation voice assistant.

Siri has been mocked by many for its many limitations. It often only understands basic requests stated simplistically.

But AI is getting more sophisticated, and Viv highlighted next-generation business uses.

The startup’s secret sauce on the technology front is dynamic program generation, or “software that writes itself,” in the words of CEO Dag Kittlaus. In short, it claims to learn from user behavior, becoming savvier over time.

Travel brand Hotels.com was the star of the demo by Viv, founded a few years ago in San Jose.

The CEO used voice commands to do a relatively complex booking at Hotels.com in under half-a-minute.

Here’s the video. The Hotels.com demo happens shortly after 6:00 minutes:

The presentation left unclear what information might be passed along to either intermediaries or suppliers, such as hotel brands, to enable them to retarget and market directly to a customer if a customer fails to complete a booking for some reason.

More broadly, the Viv demo made assumptions about how business would partner with it. Pre-existing data will presumably be needed in a profile format to be able to complete a travel booking. So integrations and issues around fire-walling data would have to be settled.

Viv wasn’t just about travel, of course. The demonstration also showed integrations with other brands, such as Uber, Weather Underground, Venmo, and ProFlowers.

The company didn’t name a launch date, but it hinted that it aims to become commercially available by year-end. Yet the company may face headwinds from bigger players who are competing to offer their own voice-activated assistants.

That said, the startup stands out in its B2B business model for its effort to be a marketplace. As one analyst put it to Tnooz confidentially, the marketplace model implies Viv won’t be arbitrating which consumers get to work with it. Presumably any player — meta search, aggregators, even hotel chains or individual properties and airlines — could participate.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.

 

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