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MobileBeat 2016 Recap: Predicting the Future of Bots

MobileBeat 2016 Recap: Predicting the Future of Bots

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Last week we attended VentureBeat’s annual mobile-focused conference, MobileBeat – which easily could have been renamed to BotBeat this year given the bot-heavy content, focus, and excitement. The conference was filled with mobile enthusiasts, influencers, futurists, and celebrities like RedFoo (formerly from LMFAO).

The man dubbed as the “Botfather”, Robert Hoffer, kicked off the conference. He created the original – and most popular bot of all time – SmarterChild. This bot had 30 million users in its IM buddy list on AOL, the platform where it lived at the time. The bot accounted for 5 percent of all IM traffic, and was sending hundreds of millions of messages a day. In 2007, Microsoft acquired SmarterChild for $46 million, but now it no longer exists.

The venue was buzzing with bot chatter, especially since VentureBeat held its first-ever nationwide Botathon. About 250 bot enthusiasts, in 10 time zones, created 60 bots during the event. The winner? A 15 year old named Liam McKinley of Great Falls, Virginia. He created Skoolbot, which allows students using natural language to access Google Classroom. McKinley uses this in his high school to do things like get homework assignments, check test scores, or reach teachers and classmates.

Other highlights of the event included Adtile’s demo of the Air Pencil, a lightweight app that runs on a mobile web browser. Air Pencil taps into a smartphone’s native micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — namely the magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope. It then calls on sophisticated Adtile-designed algorithms to reliably infer the precise movements of the user based on sensor data. You are able to capture three-dimensional motion with a high degree of accuracy. Adtile is also the maker of Weather Aware ads and is truly disrupting and spearheading the evolution of the mobile advertising space.

Chris Messina – the inventor of the hashtag who now works for Uber – said that bots will not replace apps. He predicted the explosion of what he termed “conversational commerce” in 2015, shortly after launching the first bot in Facebook Messenger, which allowed users to call an Uber.

Redfoo from LMFAO also made an appearance to close out the conference with Esther Crawford, creator of personal bot-making platform Olabot – which they launched right then and there. This platform provides ways for entertainers to reach out to fans or for your fans to interact with you through personal bots. Redfoo’s personal bot on Facebook Messenger was programmed to reply to common fan questions, and if the fans are lucky, Redfoo will reply to questions he didn’t include in the program or even go live and chat. Redfoo said, “I was searching for bots, because I was like ‘I LOVE the bots.’ Then I found Esther and sent her a message saying ‘I love your bot’.”

Here’s to the future of bots!