European telcos team up to take AI fight to Google, Amazon
(Bloomberg) -- European mobile networks Orange SA and Deutsche Telekom AG are teaming up to build an artificial intelligence platform, in a bid to catch up with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc.
Djingo, a virtual assistant that responds to voice and text, was first demoed by Orange’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard Thursday in the form of a donut-shaped speaker. At a concert venue in Paris, Richard showed the system taking orders such as playing music or publishing a tweet. The service, still under development, will be made available on various devices through software applications made by Orange, he said.
"Djingo is an erudite," Richard said. "We put all our arithmetic and artificial intelligence know-how into it."
Users can interact with the AI --using the command "OK Djingo"-- by talking into the speaker, into a microphone-equipped TV remote control similar to Amazon Fire, or typing into an app on a phone.
Artificial intelligence is the latest battlefield for carriers trying to grab back a piece of the pie from internet giants that threaten to turn operators’ business into just running commodity networks. Although the market for AI is cluttered, carriers have a long way to go to catch up with virtual assistants like Google’s "OK Google" command, Apple Inc.’s Siri or Microsoft Corp.’s Cortana on phones, or Amazon’s Echo speaker for the living room.
Other offerings from Orange involving artificial intelligence will be developed with Deutsche Telekom as part of a partnership, Richard said. He also showed a challenger to Amazon’s Dash button -- still in development, Orange’s Livebutton can do up to four actions, including ordering something online and sending a programmed text message.
For customer service in Orange’s new banking business though, the company is turning to IBM’s Watson for a robot that answers client questions and becomes smarter as it learns their needs and specifics.