Messaging app Line is taking a leaf out of the books of Amazon, Google and others after it launched its own artificial intelligence platform.
A voice-powered concierge service called Clova — short for “Cloud Virtual Assistant” — is the centerpiece of the service, much like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant. Beyond the assistant living inside the main Line chat app, the company said it has plans to release hardware with support for Clova baked-in, as Amazon and Google have done, and work with third parties to integrate the service into additional hardware. Sony and toy maker Tomy are among the early partners it is talking to.
Also, interestingly, Line has acquired a majority stake in the Japanese company behind a ‘holographic’ AI service. Vinclu is the startup, and its Gatebox is its ‘virtual robot’ that gives AI a graphical presence in the form of manga cartoon-style female — very Japanese.
“Gatebox’s holographic home assistant is voice activated and uses a variety of sensors to interact with the device’s operator in a realistic and natural manner, while also connecting to a range of devices in the home,” Line said.
As this promotional video shows, Gatebox is painted more like a virtual companion than a gender-neutral AI assistant. That might require a different approach if the product is to ship outside of Japan, perhaps involving Brown the bear and others who star in Line’s sticker packs.