SA's first human-AI app aims to do what Siri can't

Johannesburg - A South-African world-first hybrid human and artificial intelligence app is aiming to go beyond digital personal assistants answering users’ more complex questions.

Heyjude is the world’s first mobile assistant app backed by humans, assisted by AI with plans to be everyone’s personal assistant.

How it works is through a 700 seat call centre that adds the emotional intelligence element behind the AI.

Unlike AI systems such as Siri or Cortana that can only provide limited response to client requests, Heyjude is not solely relying on AI.

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This allows the personal assistant app to source responses and provide only the most relevant feedback to users.

While it won’t provide the most instantaneous responses like Siri, innovation architect and creator of  the app Marcus Smith said that the app aimed to give feedback to requests by users in under 2 minutes.

“The service is never going to be instantaneous but think of it as a concierge service on your smartphone,” Smith told Fin24.

He added that through the service, they were hoping to even assist users in emergency situations.

“For example, if you are in a foreign country and happen to lose your passport, through the service we will assist by contacting an embassy and connecting them with the user,” he said.

Smith said that in the case of medical emergencies, the app would contact relevant health professionals for the users.

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The app can be asked almost any question for example prefered routes and methods to travel long distances - the app yields results including travel time, most convenient method, and flight options  in the case there are.  

The app is able to find a product or service close by, review a service or product users are considering, organise a meeting or a delivery, book a service, book a restaurant, restaurants or tickets.

The service runs 24 hours a day.

Smith said that core call centre is based in Johannesburg, while the company was setting up offices around the country and in London and New Zealand.

The app has been running after a soft launch in August - seeing 3500 downloads on iOS and Android - while an official launch is planned for February 2017.

@KyleVenktess on Twitter.

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