virtual assistant

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virtual assistant

(1) An individual who performs administrative functions for clients. See human virtual assistant.

(2) An application that provides a verbal exchange of questions and answers in the user's native language. Although virtual assistants are a feature in tablets, desktop computers and table top units, their inclusion in the smartphone made the phone an incredibly useful electronic companion.

Also called a "personal assistant," "digital assistant," "intelligent assistant," "voice assistant" and "intelligent agent," Apple popularized the concept in 2011 with Siri, and Google, Microsoft and Amazon followed. See Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana and Amazon Echo.

Virtual assistants are also used to make phone calls and set alarms, reminders and calendar appointments, as well as turn on lights, music and other smart home devices. Over time, results become more personalized. Virtual assistants were the first embodiment of artificial intelligence used every day by millions of people (see AI). See chatbot and smart home.

A Reverse Evolution
Whereas countless applications evolved from desktop to mobile, the opposite occurred with virtual assistants. Starting out in phones and tablets, they migrated to the desktop and table top (see Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod).

Heavy Lifting in the Cloud
The virtual assistant is primarily driven by knowledge bases on the Internet. However, that vast amount of information is combined with the user's own contacts and calendar to provide very personalized assistance. See knowledge base, Semantic Web, AI and S Voice.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The release of the Jelly Bean software has signalled the arrival of Google's own integrated voice-activated search programme and this particular corner of the market will only get more exciting.
A NEW voice-activated search engine on Apple's iPhone doesn't understand Scottish accents.
The website uses voice-activated search technology to analyse the sounds, comparing them to a music database.
Promptu, formerly AgileTV, is a provider of voice-activated search and navigation services serving the cable, mobile, and other emerging industries.
The company has developed deals with wireless carriers and handheld device manufacturers, and is testing a voice-activated search technology to be installed in BMW automobiles, Despite rumors to the contrary, there are no immediate plans to take the company public.
BlackBerry 7 OS features an improved Universal Search feature to include voice-activated search. RIM has also included the full-version of Docs To Go with the new OS, though for now, this bundle has been specifically announced for the new Bold Touch 9900 and 9930.
WE were interested to read in yesterday's Record that the new voice-activated search engine launched this week on the Apple iPhone doesn't understand Scottish accents, leading to all sorts of weird results.