In just a few weeks, we will get the first public demonstration of the next generation of the technology behind Apple’s voice-controlled, artificial intelligence (AI) assistant. The current system, Siri, has been in Apple products since the developers sold the company to Apple in 2010. Those same developers have spent the past several years making the next generation of intelligent automated assistants, named Viv.
In the intervening years, we have seen other great leaps in voice-controlled assistants, including Microsoft’s Cortana and Alexa from Amazon’s Echo device. There have also been great advances in natural language AI, like Amy from x.ai–a system so convincing that people often fail to recognize that they are not exchanging emails with a person.
The promise is that the Viv personal assistant will be able to learn from its interaction with users and create and update its own code, which would enable it to establish connections between data and take actions that are impossible with hard-coded systems. What this really means is that Viv can adapt, taking on new tasks based on how users interact with the devices, services, and “things” connected to it.
The Viv team claims to not want to be tied to any particular hardware manufacturer, but would prefer to license its technology to major TV manufacturers, car companies, and app developers. Combine this freedom with the ability to learn new tasks and Viv could finally be the voice of the single hub to rule them all–one of our 2016 Predictions for the Internet of Things (The Architechnologist, January 4, 2016).
So What About HomeKit?
There is no promise that Viv will replace Siri, or even be available on Apple devices, but with the tremendous promises of voice-controlled, artificial intelligence (AI) assistants like Viv, we may see a single, free language for the innovative development of hubs by multiple manufacturers. Apple has been promising an entry into the smart-place market since 2014 and its arrival has been predicted (incorrectly) before… even by us. Most recently, the favorite hypothesis at The Architechnologist was that HomeKit (as more than a platform) would have been integrated into the newest version of the Apple TV device (at Apple’s event on September 9th, 2015), but it was nowhere to be found.
It has been our theory (one that is shared by many others) that Apple will again win a party that they came to late by making HomeKit an integral part of the heart of the modern home: the television. Families gather around the television the same way they used to surround the hearth for warmth-an integrated smart home hub, merging the mind of the home into its center, would allow the smart home to be a part of the family life as well.
HomeKit, HomeKit, Where Are You? (The Architechnologist, 11 September 2015)
We did follow up with an idea that the Apple TV had all the hardware it needed to be a Siri-based HomeKit hub and that maybe, someday, a software update could bring it to life.
Now? Now we wait. The Architechnologist will be on-hand at TechCrunch Disrupt in Brooklyn, NY, on May 9, 2016, for the first public demonstration of the Viv system.