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INSIGHTS / THE BIG PICTURE

Spanish AI startups unleash the power of virtual assistants

Spain · Oct 03, 2018 · By Emanuela Ferraro

More Spanish deep technology firms are shifting the paradigms in human-machine interactions, overhauling customer experience

First there was Siri and Alexa, the familiar voices on our Apple and Amazon devices. Joining them recently is Samsung, which acquired an intelligent assistant startup founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, the creators of Siri. Not far behind are Microsoft and Tencent; both have started development of their own virtual assistants.

As these global tech giants continue to invest in chatbot technologies, human-robot interactions will soon become more frequent and ubiquitous. This is a trend some say will fundamentally transform how we connect with companies and brands, as well as reshape the way companies acquire and engage with their customers.

In a study on the implications of artificial intelligence (AI), Niraj Dawar and Neil Bendle from Canada’s Ivey Business School assert that virtual assistants will become the primary channel through which we obtain information and choose products. They boldly predict that in time, “consumers will shift their allegiance from a trusted brand to a trusted AI assistant.”

At the core of these virtual assistants are deep, disruptive technologies  predictive algorithms, machine learning and natural language processing –  which endow the chatbots with the powerful ability to self-learn and improve their responses over time. Armed with data from our past shopping habits and daily choices, virtual assistants will soon be able to perform a range of activities, from carrying out routine purchases to managing complicated buying decisions.

With their potential to redefine the dynamics of the consumer market, the technologies powering virtual assistants - and more broadly AI - have come under intense spotlight from global entrepreneurs and investors.  According to venture capital firm Atomico, in 2016 European deep technology firms started attracting large amounts of cross-border investments, especially from US and Asian tech giants. With Europe now caught up in the deep tech momentum, we feature three promising Spanish startups making strides in this exciting space.

Sherpa - Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

Edited by Leonard Lee

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