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Siri, Evi and a future where 'everything will be controlled by voice'

Karen Haslam | Sept. 11, 2012
Industry experts are predicting that in a few years time we will all be talking to lifts and our stereo systems, and feeling puzzled if they don’t respond to us.

Evi's technology "can store knowledge and respond directly to questions," explained Tunstall-Pedoe. Evi is "improving constantly", he added. "The server, what she knows, what's in her brain, is improving every day. So she is constantly getting better and better. She constantly knows more and more and is able to do more and more," he claimed.

"Evi's core technology is very much about understanding what the user means to a very high level, and often answering directly," explained Tunstall-Pedoe. "Evi knows 700,000,000 facts and she can use that knowledge to answer directly, to give answers directly back to the user, and have a conversation with the user. And she can combine facts to produce answers as well."

Siri versus Evi

So how is that different to Apple's Siri, we wondered. One big difference is the fact that the user of Evi can provide feedback via a thumb up, thumb down button. That enables users to give direct feedback to Evi, noted Tunstall-Pedoe.

That's in addition to Evi learning as people use her, building up her database, just as is the case with Siri. User input is "very helpful in terms of her being able to learn and grow," explained Tunstall-Pedoe.

The other big difference between Evi and Siri is the fact that "Evi is available on every iPhone, and every iPad, and all Android phones," he noted, unlike Siri, which is currently only on the iPhone 4S, though coming to the New iPad with iOS 6. "Siri is an Apple product so she will never be available on anything other than Apple products, and top end Apple products only," Tunstall-Pedoe speculated.

Will this limit the Siri database's ability to learn, we asked? "I'm not sure about that," said Tunstall-Pedoe, "but it's a difference between the two products."

Another difference, that's far more important, according to Tunstall-Pedoe is "what drives both products". He explained: "Siri is very much about finding an external service to call. There are a number of things that Siri can do, and each of those involves a partner for Apple to do them: the weather; stock prices; local search, each of those is a vertical that Siri can do."

"We obviously call out to external APIs, and external partners as well. But our core technology is different and if you use both products you see that. You get more of a feeling of understanding from Evi because she understands what the questions are about. There's a difference in the personality and the feel of the products that comes from the underlying tech," claimed Tunstall-Pedoe.

What if Apple opened up its API so developers can use Siri, we asked? Would that improve Siri and be a limitation for Evi? "Obviously there is speculation about what Apple might do for developers with Siri, obviously that hasn't been confirmed. But that isn't going to change the core technology of Siri, allowing developers to get their apps into Siri isn't going to change the way the core technology works," was Tunstall-Pedoe's answer.


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