There’s no shortage of companies–Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and more, who are providing a less-than-sci-fi-movie quality experience with AI. While the days of walking into your house and being welcomed by Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey haven’t quite panned out the way future-forward thinkers have envisioned. We have at least reached the stage where you can call out for information on movie times in your town, and a computerized-yet-soothing voice will answer you.
For many AI watchers, Amazon’s Echo has come the closest to being an all-around solution, largely because the company opened its platform to developers. These outside content creators have pushed Echo’s “skills,” or new features that the virtual assistant can do. It was right in line with another one of Amazon’s long-held corporate views, that of avoiding its hardware becoming obsolete by building it to be remotely updated. (I still remember receiving an email that told me my $300 first-generation Kindle e-reader was now an MP3 player and could browse the net.)
Apple may be upping the stakes, though, at least for Siri. According to reports, Apple may or may not have just bought Seattle-based startup Turi for $200 million, at least if its blanket statement about purchasing new companies and technologies is any indication. Turi is an interesting acquisition; instead of buying a company that has made huge headway in AI, this is a company that helps outside people work within the AI sphere. Turi is a solutions provider that lets content creators have the necessary tools to make their content compatible with a virtual assistant of some kind.
A logical connecting-the-dots would mean this could speak to better outside content for Siri, which would certainly give Amazon a run for its Alexa money. If the same model that lets really great apps find their way to the App Store was somehow a part of letting outside developers create new abilities for Siri, then the Turi price tag will have been completely worth it.