Salute Voice Assistant Can Now Pick Up Russian Marriage License and Passport Applications
Sberbank’s Salute voice assistant has begun integrating with the Russian government’s public services portal to provide marriage licenses, passport applications, and other government services. The new collaboration integrates Salute with Max, the virtual assistant for the portal, known as gosuslugi.
Sber took the first steps to connect the two virtual assistants by making some of Max’s features available by voice on its mobile apps and smart speakers and displays. By asking Salute (under one of its three personas) to launch gosuslugi, users can find out how to get a passport or marriage license, and Max will guide them through part of the process before referring them to the main gosuslugi website. This is just the pilot of the integration, with plenty of plans for making more Russian government services accessible through the voice assistant.
“One of the key principles of digitalization is its multichannel nature, i.e., the ability to access information or a service in a way that is convenient for you. This principle is also relevant for voice channels, which are increasingly popular and will without a doubt be one of the main communication channels in the future. In this regard, we consider the launch of our digital assistant on Sber smart devices to be a real breakthrough,” Russian Federation Deputy Minister of Digital Development Dmitrii Oguriaev said in a statement. “Technologically speaking, the project demonstrated the high efficiency of the public-private partnership. Together, we laid the foundation for future collaboration and the expansion of our areas of cooperation in the use of SberDevices to improve Max.”
The idea of using voice assistants to connect people with government services is growing in popularity. Estonia has begun building a voice assistant to provide public services in a network called #KrattAI, while India recently chose conversational AI startup Senseforth to build one for their government. Several smaller governments in the U.S. are also experimenting with the idea. For instance, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office built its own Alexa skill to answer questions about government services and events, while Iowa decided to create voice apps for both Alexa and Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Mesa, Arizona’s Alexa skill answers questions and acts as an intermediary to pay utility bills. Sberbank has the benefit of close relations with public sector as the majority shareholder of the company is the Russian government.
Sber has been pushing out new concepts and features at a steady rate since it launched the SberPortal smart display and the SberBox TV set-top streaming device simultaneously with Salute last year. The voice assistant, which arrived with three distinct voices and personalities, has already interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin at an AI conference hosted by Sber, where it also launched Russia’s first Artificial Intelligence Institute in Moscow. It even made a deal to offer exclusive beverages from Unilever and Pepsico for purchase by voice. Most recently, the voice assistant added the ability to move around and invest pensions for users with the right kind of accounts. The connection to Max the robot marks a significant milestone, however, as it unites Salute with a whole new voice assistant.
“This is our first project involving the seamless integration of the Salute virtual assistants with external expert assistants. It has demonstrated that the technologies we designed at SberDevices can be scaled and reused in both the public and commercial sectors,” SberDevices CEO and Sberbank senior vice president Konstantin Kruglov said. “Our virtual assistants can now call on experts in certain domains to provide specialized services, as in the case with Max the robot. We plan to actively increase our cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Development, working on interesting cases and showing the market the Salute family’s capacity for integration with services by other agencies and companies.”