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Cortana Skills Kit announced, will allow Cortana to do transactions through conversation
Microsoft's new Cortana Skills Kit is designed to help Cortana get things done.
Microsoft has announced the Cortana Skills Kit, a way for businesses to allow users to carry on transactions such as hotel bookings or getting bank balances within its Cortana digital assistant.
Microsoft shared the news, along with other announcements and updates about its advances in AI, during a special press presentation today in San Francisco.
It showed a private demo of how two companies — Expedia and Capital One — have made use of the Cortana Skills Kit to allow transactions within Cortana.
Marcus Ash, group product manager for Cortana, showed one example of asking Cortana to book a hotel for his upcoming San Francisco trip. The Expedia bot responded, pulling up the last hotel where he had stayed and asking if he wanted to book it again. He replied yes, was asked if he wanted to use a stored credit card, and the transaction was done — all in two minutes or less.
Here’s a recorded demo of that working. I didn’t start recording the live one in time — it was even more impressive.
In another example, he asked for his Capital One balance. The Capital One bot replied saying it would provide it but that he first needed to give his four-digit security code. He did that, then his balance was read, plus he was asked if he wanted to pay his balance.
These are the types of deep interactions you can do with some bots on Faceboook’s Messenger platform, and to a more limited degree, through Google Assistant.
The kit will be released to developers in February 2017, and more can be found about it here. Microsoft had other announcements, which can be found on its new Conversations on AI site and also covered in our live blog below. Major speakers were:
- Harry Shum, Microsoft Research EVP
- Lili Cheng, GM and Distinguished Researcher
- Amritansh Raghav, CVP of Skype
- Marcus Ash, Group Program Manager, Cortana
Here’s our live blog: