Siri Inventors Explore What a True Intelligent Assistant Could do for Users

SRI BrightSiri has had her ups and downs. When Apple first demonstrated the virtual personal assistant, the tech world was floored. However, Siri isn’t exactly the perfect secretary. She doesn’t make a great cup of coffee, she doesn’t know how to lie to your boss when you step out for an afternoon movie, and she can’t always understand what you are saying. The company that created our friendly assistant is working on new technology that could potentially turn Siri into the “Radar O’ Reilly” of the mobile device world.

The software developers at the nonprofit R&D institute SRI are working on something called Bright, which is a more advanced intelligent assistant that could someday know what information you need before you even ask.

According to MIT Technology Review, Bright’s main purpose is to help workers in high-stress, data-intensive jobs like emergency response and network security. The software has the potential to help users predict and stop the spread of a fast-moving virus by providing infection information or help an emergency response operator send the right help to an accident scene.

However, Bright could also find its way into less demanding environments like laptops and mobile devices. “It might take the form of software that automatically brings up listings for your favorite shows when it thinks you’re about to sit down and watch TV, or searches the Web for information relevant to your latest research project without requiring you to lift a finger.”

SRI’s senior computer scientist Grit Denker describes Bright as a “cognitive desktop” with the potential to understand what you and the group nearby are doing. She claims that the company is working to make Bright capable of anticipating what information will be needed next and testing different actions in advance to speed up response time. A touch sensitive display will be able to track finger touches and hand gestures.

Currently, Bright is focused on “cognitive indexing” which means it ties clues together and tries to predict what is important. It is very far from becoming anything useful to consumers. However, Siri used to be a long way from being useful and her abilities have improved significantly, even over the past year.

Maybe Bright will be Siri’s replacement in a few years. The assistive technology will need a new name. Brit? Brian? Maybe Apple will just incorporate Bright’s advanced abilities into Siri and we’ll just have to give her a raise.

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik