It may well be the dawn of the age of the chatbot, with conversational computer programs popping up all over the place, including in the kitchen.
In conjunction with the launch of his new book, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has built what he is calling “the world’s easiest recipe bot”, accessible via Facebook and Messenger.
The program allows users to send in the emoji of an ingredient, or a theme such as a heart for Valentine’s Day, and receive related recipes in return.
Meal-planning for the weekend & need some suggestions? Our #QuickAndEasyFood recipe generator feeds on emojis, give it a go for inspiration! ???????????????????? jamieol.com/QEGenerator
Posted by Jamie Oliver on Saturday, 23 September 2017
While chatbots can be subject to a host of problems, according to Ben Davis, Econsultancy deputy editor, Oliver’s effort serves up functionality and well-presented content.
“One of the problems with chatbots is that natural language processing isn’t yet sophisticated enough to allow a bot to effortlessly respond to every user query,” Davis writes.
“That means, as anyone who has ever created or managed a chatbot will know, your users will try to catch you out.”
Oliver’s chatbot, Davis notes, cuts out on free-form messaging, by requiring users to stick to the language of emoji.
This may limit conversation, but makes interactions a lot easier to handle.
“Emojis become a very useful way of shutting down any off-piste conversation, making the bot look more efficient, and not leaving the user confused as to what the bot can and can’t do,” Davis writes.
It may well give businesses pause to consider the most simple and direct ways to utilise new technologies to communicate with consumers.
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As Davis notes, aesthetically appealing and with photo and video content, Oliver has kept the offering simple: “Emoji, recipe, bang.”
“Chatbots get a lot of stick, but if you’re building one for marketing or PR purposes, like Jamie here, all you have to do is ensure that the UX [user experience] is tight and focused, and that the bot provides something useful or entertaining to the end user,” Davis says.