I have friends who are black, white, purple, gay, straight, Martian, yellow, old, and young. I have friends who are animals and a few who I believe to be robots. All of them are people to me. In my mind, it's not about what you look like or what you do; it's about who you are inside. ~Tracy Morgan, Actor
Technology has come a long way since the advent of computers and cell-phones. Truly a phenomenon which wasn't predicted before as to how fast science and technology can advance; rightfully tagging this century as the "Technology Bloom Phase".
One of the aspects which has been the improvement in the methodologies centric towards communication. Starting off with Orkut and Rediff to Gmails and Outlook; from MySpace to Facebook, Twitter; from Yahoo Messenger and BBM to WhatsApp, Omegle and Line; the general public have witnessed a global advancement in platforms for communication and information sharing with major revamps in existing frameworks and also invention of new platforms. Data sharing has now exceeded all our previous calculations and is rising exponentially which lead to the birth of BigData. But even in this digital era, communication is a very broad term to look into; Thus, constraining the parameters as per the scope of this article we shall look into the domain of chat applications and what does the future holds for next generation chat application.
Before moving ahead with what the future holds, let's take a look into the brief history in time for Chat Applications and where they stand at present:
What is Chat?
Chat is the process of communicating or interacting by sending and receiving messages in various forms digitally over the internet by two or more participating individuals via a chat platform also known as a Chat Application or Software.
Defining more technically, chatting involves a mechanism of sharing digital media including audio, visual, audio-visual, text, verbal or animations between two or more individual or groups of individuals connected to each other by the Internet and communicating via a desktop or mobile device by availing to the services of a Chat Application Software supporting Internet Relay Chat(IRC) or where a central server is responsible for managing the workflow of the communication between the users using the application. These applications have chat rooms or private chat room for interacting with other individuals or groups and has an interface which manages the complete workflow associated to the sending and receiving of data.
What is a Chat Application?
A Chat Application is an interface or a Software application which runs on your mobile devices and provides a platform for users to interact with each other over the internet. Technically speaking, a chat application is a server-client application where the client uses a specific port on the network and the recipient of the message is also connected to the same port of the network and the message or data is shared over the server.
There are many chat applications these days offering different services and also centric towards different sectors of public with differing functionalities. Some to name a few include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Discord, Hangouts, Skype, etc.
The Present Scenario: Smart Chatting
In the current decade, software companies have increased their capabilities within their chatting application domain to being smart applications making it easier to communicate or share data.
Let's explore a few instances:
- Auto-complete: Now with smarter software, the chatting application provides users with a list of words based on the first letter of the word typed which is based on our most used words from the vocabulary corpus stored.
- Automated Replies: Now with the rush and workload, many working people fail to reply to emails or messages which has been implemented as a feature in Gmail and other chatting application which allows you to select a reply generated appropriate to the message received.
- Voice to Text Input: Chat Applications have made their interfaces smoother by enabling voice to text input for users to say out their message which gets delivered to the intended recipient in text format.
- Animated Emoticons: Most popularly seen in the iPhone X, Animated Emoticon or popularly known as Animoji is the feature within chat application enabling users to get creative and interact with others via emoticons based on virtual characters resembling their facial characteristics.
To mask off, these are few of the many advancements chat applications have underwent over the years. But one of the major innovation in the field of chat applications was in the late 2010's which was termed as "ChatBots".
Chatbots arrived in the global scene in the early 2011 as intelligent bots embedded within chat applications based on Artificial Intelligence
and a particular section of Machine Learning called Natural Language Processing (NLP).
What exactly is a Chatbot?
A messaging application, sometimes referred to as a conversational interface, designed to simplify complex predefined task(s). The "chatbot" label covers a number of categories including stand-alone applications, AI tools, bot developer frameworks and messaging, bot discovery, connectors/shared services, and analytics.
“Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services” ~Peter Rojas, Entrepreneur
Chatbots are termed as our next best friends as they aim to simplify the methodologies incorporated in real-time information sharing and communication. It may seem to one that Chatbots are a recent venture and have not fully incorporated themselves in today's commercial sector but would be very surprised to know that many multinational enterprises incorporate chatbots in their workflow of working. Few instances include:
These chatbots are used for purposes including booking a cab for yourself or any of your associate; ordering pizzas or coffee; checking your transactions; playing songs as per your interests and many more all via chatting. And chatbots are growing and expanding to all sectors like an epidemic from domains of marketing, banking and commerce. Surely, the future looks bright for chatbots.
The Future: Intelligent Chat Applications
Over the decade calls and emails to customer care have been replaced by the slew rate advancement and development of chatbots. Nearly 11,000 chatbots have been deployed in chatting services of Facebook leading to the release of the Chatbot Development Kit. But what does the future hold for chat applications?
Chatbots are based on a certain domain of technology called Artificial Intelligence(AI). The word of focus however is intelligence, with all AI programs aiming to achieve and demonstrate higher levels of intelligence. Chatbot or chatting applications are certainly no strangers to this aspect. With advancement in AI and NLP, we are looking into highly advanced and intelligent chatting interfaces or chatbots. Certain aspects for the same would be advanced text to voice output for those with disabilities thus eliminating the boundaries in communication and sharing of information. Other aspects include human like interactive AI chatbots. There are already some existing human like interactive AI chatbots but many developments are imminent to occur to polish the software running under the hood. These include Microsoft's Zo and Ruuh, Xiaolce in China and Jasper. Another aspect including advanced voice commands control.
There are many aspects of advancements to cover as chat applications become more smarter and chatbots more intelligent and human-like. However, only future will tell of what these chat applications will be in the future.