What are Virtual Assistants?


As voice recognition and gesture-based technologies advance and more recently, converge, we are quickly moving away from the notion of interacting with our devices via a pointer and keyboard. Virtual assistants are a credible extension of work being done with natural user interfaces (NUIs), and the first examples are already in the marketplace. The concept builds on developments in interfaces across the spectrum of engineering, computer science, and biometrics. The Apple iPhone’s Siri and Android's Jellybean are recent mobile-based examples, and allow users to control all the functions of the phone, participate in lifelike conversations with the virtual assistant, and more. A new class of smart televisions are among the first devices to make comprehensive use of the idea. While crude versions of virtual assistants have been around for some time, we have yet to achieve the level of interactivity seen in Apple's classic video, Knowledge Navigator. Virtual assistants of that caliber and their applications for learning are clearly in the long-term horizon, but the potential of the technology to add substance to informal modes of learning is compelling.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016Through the development of AI systems these will become more prevalent over time.
  • - gillysalmon gillysalmon Feb 20, 2016 intuitive I agree, but is there any examples yet of higher educational use?

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Games environments that utilise AI agents
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016Scaffolded learning for more personalised offline learning.
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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