Google Launches Duplex Service in Brazil
Google has introduced Duplex to Brazil, the eleventh country where the tech giant has brought the voice AI service. Google Duplex will use Google Assistant technology to call Brazilian businesses to check opening times and other info for those using Google Search and Maps. It will also interface with the web to find and purchase movie tickets and check on local voting locations for users.
Only one of Google Duplex’s projects in Brazil involves voice AI. The service relies on Google Assistant technology to perform as a proactive business informational service. It semi-independently calls stores to fill in and update opening hours and contact info on Search and Maps. The voice service doesn’t make restaurant reservations or hair salon appointments as it can in some other countries as of yet. The e-commerce element of Duplex in Brazil is limited to web interactions, where Duplex enables users to buy a movie theater ticket right from Google Search via a Brazilian partner. The service is also being leveraged by Brazil’s electoral authority, which is using Google Duplex to help people find and get to their local voting spots.
“With this new feature, we will help companies to connect with their customers in an increasingly faster, simpler and more natural way. We will also offer more agility and ease to perform tasks on the internet that are usually time-consuming, or may seem complex for those who are not so familiar with the digital world,” Google Assistant partnerships in Latin America head Marco Oliveira explained in a translated blog post. “The big difference with Duplex is the naturalness of the conversation, both in speech and in the understanding of the answers, thanks to the advanced technology of natural language comprehension (NLU, its acronym in English). In this testing phase, the feature is being used in Brazil to update the opening hours of stores, restaurants, offices, among other establishments. Google has been making about 200 calls a day using Duplex. In the last three months, more than 50 thousand Brazilian companies were contacted through this technology.”
Duplex started in the U.S. in 2018, where it faced some pushback after it turned out that some Google Duplex calls were being made by humans. Google claimed that it was because of a lack of information about whether the restaurants take reservations. Duplex slowly added more features, such as adding inventory status to its questions when calling stores during the COVID-19 lockdowns ahead of the belated barber shop appointments. Last year, Google connected Duplex to Android to streamline ordering food from restaurants, but the company has been quiet about its future plans for Duplex and its features. In the wake of Google revealing plans to sunset Google Conversational Actions in favor of Android apps, the fate of Duplex is arguably just as uncertain as some of Google’s other voice AI projects.