While speech-technology has come a long way, we still haven’t entered the world of Star Trek reruns where the computer can do truly useful things through voice interactions. A big step in the right direction comes from a new app from N.L.P. LLP called HER. Yes, Siri works well for many things but if you tell it you want to buy an iPad Mini with Retina Display, it tells you to check out Apple.com which isn’t the best mobile experience if you want to buy something quickly.
The company’s website is humans-first.com but in the app stores the app HER is listed as being from N.L.P which stands for for natural language processing. The company bases its innovative app on its own ColdSmoke SaaS platform which maps natural language to web services APIs. They also provide a Software Developer Kit (SDK) to quickly bring new NLP-based apps to market.
In testing, results were generally good. When I first asked to purchase an iPad Mini with Retina display I immediately got to see iPad Minis from Amazon.com. Subsequently the same query sent me to Best Buy and showed me iPad Mini cases and accessories. Then again, this is what could happen when you search on the site of Best Buy or Amazon using a keyboardl. I just wonder how the service nailed it on my first try.
How to book a flight with HER
Searching for a hotel in Vegas worked flawlessly. Still, we aren’t talking “Star Trek” or “Jeopardy” smart as when I asked for the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas, it returned the same results as my initial search.
Quite often, one service excels at a specific task while another isn’t as good. For example, some mapping apps are more accurate than others due to their up-to-date database while others are better at showing traffic alerts.
HER (Google Play, iOS) is something you should consider putting on your list of apps to try when you want to make a hotel reservation or buy something on the go. As it evolves, I hope that one day it will be a service that truly reminds us of Star Trek.