Virtual assistant

SK Telecom’s latest virtual assistant is more than just a voice

Lee Hyun-a, product manager of SK Telecom, speaks at a press conference on Monday. SK Telecom on Monday launched an open beta service of the company’s A. mobile app. [SK TELECOM]

SK Telecom’s new virtual assistant will put a face to its name.

The A.” app, which began testing as a beta service on Monday, is a combination of a chatbot, content curator, and daily task manager. Although it may sound similar to Siri and Bixby, the most notable difference is that this “assistant” is not only a voice but also a character, said SK Telecom.

“The goal of our service is to become users’ friend in their daily lives,” Lee Hyun-a, Product Manager of SK Telecom and Head of AI&CO Department, said Monday at a press event held at the SK Telecom office in central Seoul.

Character A., ​​who is a “visualized agent” for the service, “will create an emotional connection with users,” Lee said.

An image of SK Telecom's virtual assistant app named ″A.″ [SK TELECOM]

An image of SK Telecom’s virtual assistant app named ″A.″ [SK TELECOM]

The aim is to integrate various services scattered across multiple apps with a single app and provide a seamless user experience, according to SK Telecom.

“The service saves time searching for and installing apps, and features fun content to help you spend time more enjoyable,” Lee said.

Lee said the A. brand is focused on delivering personalized services based on big data and machine learning technology directly to customers, unlike Nugu.

Nugu is SK Telecom’s existing artificial intelligence (AI) system, which is more focused on business-to-business sectors.

The A. app offers personalized services such as music and video curation and schedule management through a nice, relatable character that can be personalized by the user, the company explained.

After the basic registration process for the app, users are greeted with a page where they can customize the character’s name, design, voice, and tone. Users can chat with the character for fun or request the services they need, such as search, navigation, schedule management or alarm setup.

As the app is connected to music streaming site Flo and video streaming platform Wavve, users can enjoy songs or videos through A. and also get content recommendations based on their preferences. The app also supports other basic services, such as making phone calls or sending text messages.

The A. service is based on the GPT-3 language model which has 175 billion parameters, developed by OpenAI of San Francisco.

When service A. cannot answer a user’s question, it sends the question to other users who may have answers.

Other machine learning-based services, including automated TV content curation and photo management, will be updated in the second half of this year.

A. app is currently available on Google Play Store and One Store. The iOS version is under development and will also be available on Apple’s App Store in the future, SK Telecom said.

BY SHIN HA-NEE [[email protected]]