The bot platform ecosystem and the emerging giants
Bot ecosystem achieved that encouraged result thanks to hefty amount of investment to bot from “colossal” such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft. Big ones want to dominate the ecosystem when they invest in key areas of the ecosystem. (The bot ecosystem can be broken down into several key areas: general AI agents with platforms, messaging platforms, natural language & AI as a service and bot framework & deployment platform).
The first one is general AI agents with platforms
- Amazon Alexa is the voice service behind Amazon’s Echo, a voice-controlled speaker. Developers can write plug-ins (Amazon calls them “skills”) that enable users to interact with services using voice commands. Skills use the Alexa Skills Kit, a bundle of tools provided by Amazon. The Alexa Skills Kit includes a step-by-step checklist for getting started, designing voice user interfaces, building, hosting, and reviewing code, and submitting skills for certification. It also includes the Smart Home Skill API, which allows developers to teach Alexa how to control lighting and thermostat devices. All of the code runs in the cloud.
- Google Now is a voice-controlled, context-aware assistant available on Android. Now uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. In addition to answering user-initiated queries, it delivers information that predicts what users might want, based on their search habits. Now can handle basic tasks like setting timers and alarms, and it has made some of this functionality available to app developers through a handful of pre-defined triggers. Apart from Google Now, there is Google Assistant that could run in Google Home (a device similar to Amazon’s Echo); the new Android Wear watches, and the Allo and Duo apps
- Microsoft has two important bot platforms of its own as well as tools that connect bots to any other major platform. Cortana, Microsoft’s voice assistant, is available to developers through an SDK, and Skype acts as a messaging platform for bots. Microsoft has also published Bot Framework, an open-source library for developing bots on SMS, email, Skype, Slack, Messenger, GroupMe, Telegram, Kik, and any other platform through a direct API.
- Samsung bought Viv (regarded as powerful as Siri)
- Apple Siri : Developers can build extensions that communicate with Siri and register with specific domains that define the tasks that the app can perform. Siri handles voice and natural language recognition and can work with your extension to get information and handle user requests. In addition, SiriKit enables messaging, photo search, phone calls to other apps, ride booking, and personal payments.
- Facebook, which owns WhatsApp as well as Messenger, is by far the world’s largest messaging platform, available on nearly any mobile or desktop. The Facebook Messenger Platform enables developers to build bots with three main capabilities: The first one is an API for sending and receiving text, images; The second one is the ability to create generic structured message templates with CTAs, horizontal scroll, URLs, and postbacks, and; Facebook also offers natural language assistance through its wit.ai bot engine. This enables ongoing training of bots using sample conversations that effectively turns natural language into structured data. With Facebook Messenger you can use web plugins, Messenger Codes, Messenger Links, and Messenger Usernames. The platform additionally provides access to various Messenger tools, including Shopify, Twilio, and Zendesk. Facebook also enables businesses (such as restaurants or ride services) that use SMS for real-time communication to transfer those conversations to Messenger
- Slack is uniquely positioned as a workplace messaging platform, which has made it attractive for a wide variety of productivity oriented bots. These bots act as “bot users,” a term that Slack uses to differentiate them from human users. There are 2 kinds of bots custom bots and app bots Each one serves a different purpose and offering different functionality. Unlike some other major platforms that restrict bots to one-on-one conversations, Slack bots are able to participate in the group conversations.
- Kik is different from Slack, Kik is a specialized platform for teenager. About 40 percent of U.S. teens use Kik with more 300 million registered users. This is a huge market for bot. Kik appeals directly to marketers, teenager is a potential segment in this growing IM market.
- Line is simply a king in messenger app in Japan, where it’s installed on 80% of Android devices and has become a cultural phenomenon, and is also popular in Indonesia and Singapore.
- Berlin-based Telegram emphasizes security, offering “secret chats” with end-to-end encryption and completely public source code. Telegram’s Bot API provides access to the platform for third-party developers. Bot of Telegram can do anything—teach, play, search, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services.
- IBM Watson Conversation Developers can now tap into the resources of Watson—IBM’s large scale cognitive system for understanding, reasoning and learning— for developing bots and virtual agents. Using Conversation requires signing up for a Bluemix account. (To encourage interest, IBM offers a free 30-day trial.) IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud (WDC) offers “one-stop shopping” for developers, providing basic but essential cognitive capabilities such as Speech to Text, Text to Speech, Natural Language Classifier, Dialog, and Visual Recognition.
- Microsoft, Amazon, Google all have such kind of service offering businesses.
Generalized natural language and AI-as-a-service platforms
Bots are interfaces to artificial intelligence, and the sophistication of a bot is directly linked to the sophistication of its AI model. Fortunately for bot developers, several companies provide “artificial intelligence as a service,” making it easy to implement very basic AI.
Bot Platforms and Toolkits Tools, platforms, and resources that make it easy to deploy chatbots
- Automat offers a platform and a set of WYSIWYG tools that could be approached for building bots having ability to learn over course of time. Its AI goes beyond traditional tree-building tools: it combines understanding of entire conversations, not just single piece, this takes minimal intervention from a bot’s creators for improvement. Automat initially supports Messenger, Kik, and Slack.
- BotKit is developed by Howdy.ai, BotKit is an open-source framework for messaging. It offers built-in calls for Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Twilio, with a particular emphasis on Slack.
- Chatfuel is an easy-to-use toolkit which emphasizes “a full-featured chatbot in 7 minutes.” It’s the platform behind several news-media bots, including those from Forbes and TechCrunch. Chatfuel’s features are the the following but not limited to: the ability to import data through plugins, turning static information like RSS feeds into interactive bots.
- Pandorabots was co-founded by Richard Wallace. He is the computer scientist who created AIML. The company offers chatbot development tools through its Playground development environment, an artificial-intelligence-as-a-service API, and bot hosting services. Pandorabots could be integrated with Twilio, Hubot, Slack, Twitter, Telegram, and Firebase.
- Sequel is famous for their positioning “write once, publish everywhere” tools for building bots. This chatbot focus on games and entertainment and on bots in which has personality. An example of it is the Sequel Stories bot publishes interactive fiction through messaging.
Thus, the bot ecosystem is moving and flourishing, on the basis of abundant investment resources from technology giants and “long tail” is the startup bots. This growth trend is likely to continue in the future, contributing greatly to the 4th Industrial Revolution.