Microsoft showcased AI chatbots capable of representing businesses and talking with users via Skype at its Build 2016 developers conference in San Francisco.
A chatbot is a type of bot that chats with human beings online.
The tech giant announced the addition of ‘Microsoft Bot Framework’ to its Cortana Intelligence Suite, allowing developers (programming in any language) to create intelligent bots which can interact with customers using natural language on a wide variety of platforms including text/SMS, Office 365, Skype, Slack, the Web and more.
For example, a pizza delivery service can now enable users to review the menu, find price promotions and complete an order by simply conversing with a Pizza Bot on their communication platform of choice.
The AI bots are also capable of interacting with Cortana. Lilian Rincon, Skype group program manager, demonstrated how Cortana is able to engage in a text conversation with chat bots via the Skype application.
“Right away what you’re seeing here is that the agent, Cortana, is actually brokering the conversation with the third party bot,” Rincon explained.
The Cortana and Skype demonstration show how Cortana can help users get things done directly via their Skype chats. Cortana proactively helps users find information, manages calendars and connects to other bots that are relevant to the user, all without leaving the application.
Microsoft also released the Skype Bot Portal for developers to join and gain access to new Skype Bot API and Skype Bot SDK, allowing developers to leverage Skype’s multiple forms of communication, including text, voice, video and 3-D interactive characters.
Skype said that the bots “will come to life through messaging today, and in the future will be available for audio and video calling as well.”
“This is only the beginning of taking this exciting technology and together, we can shape what it looks like to shop, play a game, order food, schedule meetings, book trips, control your smart home and more.”
Readers can learn more about Cortana Intelligence Suite and the new previews here, download the new Skype client here and sign up for the Skype Bot Platform.
Interesting related article: “What is a Bot?“