SK Telecom Unveils New Voice Assistant ‘Character’ Built With GPT-3
South Korean communications giant SK Telecom has introduced a new voice assistant named A. (the letter A followed by a full stop) that leverages OpenAI’s GPT-3 conversational AI engine to learn and adapt to a user’s preferences. A. is available as an open beta version for Android on One Store and Google Play to carry out smartphone tasks and both play and recommend music and video content.
The new A. voice assistant operates like other smartphone voice assistants but with bonus conversational AI and character design. SK Telecom envisions A. becoming as much a friendly face as a voice to listen to, as evidenced by the image of a colorful icon reminiscent of a robotic teddy bear as seen in the image above. This “visualized agent” is supposed to help form an emotional connection with the user, interacting across multiple apps as a singular experience. That includes search, schedule management, and suggestions for entertainment. A. is also supposed to distinguish itself from the enterprise-focused Nugu AI operated by SK Telecom. The A. name is a deliberate placeholder, as users can set up the name, look, voice, and tone of the AI, conversing with it beyond simply assigning tasks. Should it fail to have an answer, it will crowdsource responses from others, similar to Amazon’s Alexa Answers feature.
“We created ‘A.’ as a means to provide customers with the benefits of warm, human-centered technologies in this era of AI,” SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang said. “Going forward, we expect ‘A.’ to constantly grow and become a more valuable service with the active participation of customers.”
SK Telecom’s voice AI has had a very busy year adding features and partnering with other companies to boost its services. In December, SK Telecom embedded Alexa within the Nugu Candle smart speaker language options alongside the native Aria voice assistant using Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service (AVS). That followed the decision to integrate Samsung’s SmartThings smart home platform with Nugu and a deal with Volvo Cars Korea to run SK Telecom’s infotainment system, including a voice assistant and vocal commands on its new XC60 and other vehicles.
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