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Anboto has developed the first 5th generation virtual assistant

Iker González - 14/02/2010 EITB

Thanks to their system, Anboto is part of the World Wide Web Consortium, the international community led by the web founder, Tim Berners Lee, in charge of developing Web standards

Anboto, a company located in Biscay, and started by Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, (Algorta, 1981), has developed a virtual assistant of a more advanced generation than the generation in use up until now. According to the renowned advisory firm, Gartner (Internet analysts), this innovative virtual assistant makes a leap from the fourth to the fifth generation.

What is so different about it? This systems enables a free dialogue (non-monitored) between the user and the computer in natural language. Up until now, systems were able to recognize the user's words searching for coincidence, that is to say, looking for matches with the content already stored in the system.

The 5th generation virtual assistant developed by Anboto is able to maintain a natural dialogue with the user. . This is possible due to the fact that the system deals with concepts within words, and it is not a "mere" search engine. The program carries out an ontological analysis of the words introduced by the user, processing the possible meanings. For example, in Spanish the word 'mañana' has at least two different meanings: it may refer to the part of the day ('morning'), or it may refer to the next day ('tomorrow'), and the system tells both meanings apart. Other example would be the verb 'querer' in Spanish: the system differentiates when it means to 'love', or just to 'want' or 'like' something.

Another important point about the system is that technology becomes more user friendly for those people with little techno-culture. It enables users to interact with technology the same way they interact with other people, putting an end to tiresome questionnaires with endless pop-up menus, dates, etc.

Structuring the future of the Internet

The system had such an overwhelming success that the company joined the World Wide Web Consortuim (W3C), working team in January 1st, 2010. The W3C's mission is to develop Web standards. Anboto is the first and only Basque company to be a member of the W3C Consortium, along with other 335 world-wide companies such as Google, Yahoo, Adobe, IBM, CERN...

The consortium is led by Tim Berners Lee regarded as the world wide web founder, credited with the invention of the HTML, the language used to navigate on all the webs in the world. Tim Berners is currently engaged in the project of the Semantic Web.

The Semantic Web is the future of the Internet, the W3C leads the way and indicates the direction to be followed by those who wish to make progress on the Internet. The members of this prestigious institution gather in groups (30 people approximately) to tackle the different aspects of this project.

Among others, Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria is a member of EMMA (Extensible MultiModal Annotation Markup Language). The EMMA develops different representations of user inputs (pen input, natural language, gestures), and representations of the output (i.e., text to speech) as the W3C explains on its website. In conclusion, it is about finding an applicable standard for the system developed by Anboto.

How did it start?

Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria continued with the project Metalingua, started by his father. Metalingua is a technological development with the aim to promote the use of minority languages on the Internet. The system works with concepts (instead of words), and is able to gather and translate input from natural and computer language (pdf, pdf, word, hml, html...). 

Uribe-Etxebarria went to the United States and joined a working convention of the W3C in Silicon Valley as a guest expert.The members were surprised by the excellence of the system developed by Anboto decided to include him in their working team. This young entrepreneur from Algorta started the company in 2009, and only a month later the company was already a member of the W3C.

The company combines their collaboration with the W3C and their own customers. Starting from a " base programme", they offer the possibility to develop an application to meet the customer's needs (travel agencies, banks, etc.).

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