Chatbot

Interactive experiences are popping up in instant messaging apps. This analysis is an extract from our 2018 Trends Report.

What is it about?

A bot is a computer program that automates and performs a task for users. Unlike voice-activated virtual assistants, chatbots simulate conversation from text commands sent through a chat interface, app, or online.

Software interacting with users from a set of predetermined responses is nothing new by itself. Launched in 2001 and downloaded 30 million times, the SmarterChild chatbot, integrated with AOL Instant Messaging and MSN Messenger, allowed users to send text questions about the weather, sports results, the stock market, or other topics.

What’s different today is how rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are producing increasingly intelligent chatbots that are actually able to teach themselves as they go along. Also, chatbots are being deployed on major messaging services along with easy application program interfaces (APIs) for developers to create chatbots.

Why is it important to out industries?

There are more than 5 billion active messaging users out there. With chatbots, content creators can now connect with this massive global audience through personalized interactive experiences. And the moment you start experimenting with chatbots, all kinds of narrative possibilities will arise. Like the experience of talking with a fictional character in the chatbot created to promote the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles release. Others invite users to decide how a story actually unfolds, like in Game of Thrones Survival.

Interesting facts

Tools for creating a chatbot of your very own: PullString and Chatfuel.

Go deeper

  • For an overview of chatbots as a storytelling interface: How chatbots can be used to tell stories
  • Examples of chatbots created by players in the audiovisual sector.

Worth following

In February 2017, the Canadian self-publishing platform Wattpad launched Tap, an app for telling stories as instant messaging conversations. Their ‘Tap Originals’ category goes beyond text messages by integrating videos, images, voice memos, and even ‘choose your own adventure’ elements that allow users to play a role in how the action develops.

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