Introducing Viv - Siri Grows Up

March 2015 by: Alpha Tech

Many will remember the fever-pitch reception Siri received back in 2011 with the launch of the iPhone 4S.  But the very team behind Apple’s intelligent assistant has something new up its sleeve: Viv Labs has just raised $12.5M in a series B round led by Iconiq Capital for its more advanced, next-generation AI assistant.


The big hurdle the founders behind the new AI assistant (called Viv) want to overcome is the reliance on preprogrammed outputs that limit the usability and effectiveness of incumbents like Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana (see video). One of the core features that will allow Viv to do this is in-built self-learning and memory capabilities: by using your personal preferences and a wide network of online resources Viv will be able to give you more accurate and better quality responses that only get better with time.


The startup also wants Viv to understand complex, naturally spoken sentence which again incumbents are not able to fully support. For instance if one was to input the sentence in the picture (right) to an iPhone the only output Siri can provide is your brother’s address (provided it’s in your address book) – not exactly helpful. However with the same input Viv will be able to give you a list of wine stores with suitable bottles along the way to your brother’s house – in just 1/20th of a second!


Our Take The idea behind Viv is that the founders want your virtual assistant to work for you rather than the other way round. While Siri was a good first step, we can all agree there is certainly room for improvement and a more capable team than Viv Labs would be hard to find. The startup wants to license out its completed technology to anyone and everyone (apps, TVs, cars etc.) so stay on the look out for a smarter assistant coming your way soon. The startup also wants Viv to understand complex, naturally spoken sentence which again incumbents are not able to fully support. For instance if one was to input the sentence in the picture (right) to an iPhone the only output Siri can provide is your brother’s address (provided it’s in your address book) – not exactly helpful. However with the same input Viv will be able to give you a list of wine stores with suitable bottles along the way to your brother’s house – in just 1/20th of a second!