Google’s spent a long time improving the AI smarts of its Assistant and earlier today announced some improvements to the sound of its voice and natural language capabilities. We didn’t expect to see that voice go out into the real world but the company surprised us all by announcing Google Duplex, a service that allows the Google Assistant to make an unsupervised phone call for you.
In a demonstration that sent actual shockwaves through the early morning Ausdroid Google IO chat room (suffice to say, we’re impressed), Google showed that the Assistant can now make actual conversational phone calls to businesses in order to make an appointment or booking – by your request, of course.
Google Duplex allows the Assistant to reach out to businesses that don’t have an online booking or reservation system so you don’t have to.
Just pause and consider that for a minute – Google is now calling businesses for you.
In the demonstration recordings played at Google IO this morning, the Assistant includes natural conversational pauses, umm’s, ahh’s and uh-huhs to disguise the fact that it’s a robot interacting with the real human at the other end of the line.
This was actually pretty mind-blowing for us watching. The party at the other end of the line knew they were talking to an assistant, but the Google Assistant refers to the booking party only as “my client”.
At the end of the process, the Assistant drops you a notification to let you know it’s made the appointment for you.
In the demonstrations seen this morning, the Google Assistant negotiated a time for a hair appointment, and attempted to book a table for four at a restaurant that only took reservations for five people or more.
In the second demonstration, it enquired about wait times for a party of four on the date of the requested booking, and ended the conversation with “Gotcha. Thank you.”
Further to making appointments and bookings for you, Google themselves can now use Google Duplex themselves to call businesses and update their opening hours including special hours on public holidays.
The Google Assistant can now make any phone on the planet ring…
What we don’t know is whether we can also get John Legend to make the call for us.