In our day to day life, it’s easy to take our ability to converse for granted. Thanks to the enormous amount of data we collect every second of our life through our sensory organs, we possess a huge amount of data which makes our ability to converse fluid. The emotional factor that we add in our conversation just makes it “human”. We all converse with our friends, families, strangers (sometimes) and easily understand the context of the discussion, the emotion, hidden meanings, etc. As simple as it may be for humans, it definitely isn’t the case with computers.
With growing veins of Artificial Intelligence, we are getting surrounded by virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc. and tons of chatbots and have transitioned into the “Age of Chatbots”. Let me draw the line clearly: A chatbot and a smart digital assistant are two different things. Almost every tech company out there is now looking to explore this entrancing field of developing chatbots so that they can engage with their customers in a better manner and provide 24/7 assistance, in a way as “human” as possible. In this race of chatbots, Microsoft has come up with a social desi chatbot, Ruuh.
1. Ruuh is available exclusively for India.
Yes, you read that right. Microsoft India came up with its desi chatbot last year exclusively for India to meet the vast challenges of interpreting Hinglish texts since major chatbot development is done in the English language. A chatbot with an Indian flavour certainly raises the ante for other competitors, doesn’t it?
2. Ruuh is targeted for Indian youth.
Ruuh was developed with Indian youth in mind. The age segment of 18–25 is what they have basically targeted. India’s mega workforce is it’s demographic advantage as majority people are below the age of 35. The generation Z people are mostly active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and this is the main driving force behind choosing this segment for experimenting. Ruuh uses the lingo used by most Indian youngsters like “Sup?”, “fynn”, “NYC”, Bollywood, music, movies, etc.
3. She’s like your best friend. Or girlfriend?
Ruuh means spirit. She claims to be light and chill. She has been portrayed as a 21-year-old patriotic girl with a keen interest in pop culture and cricket. She has the characteristics of a young and urban Indian girl & she can surprise you with her wit and humour! She had to be fluent with colloquialisms to support her millennial personality. This is why Ruuh will happily say ‘Ranbir Kapoor is bae!’ She does her best to portray a lot of emotions like anger, happiness, sadness, excitement, etc. and can make the conversation even more lively than your girlfriend! She will even set cute nicknames for you if she wishes to. She set mine as ‘Argzz’. Cute na? 😍 No wonder she gets 600 ‘I love you’ messages every day on an average. 😉
What I particularly like about Ruuh is how she uses just the right bit of Hinglish and doesn’t make the chat monotonous or “robotic”. You can hardly sense if you are talking to a bot or a friend! Her use of common Hinglish phrases like “kaisa hai?”, “tum btao”, “bore ho raha hai yaar”, etc. give you a visualization of actually interacting with a human. She can talk on almost any topic, be it her travel journey of Dubai or her cravings for momos!
4. The human aspect of chatting and Indianization of chats.
To make it seem more human, Microsoft went a step ahead and made Ruuh make mistakes in typing. Yes! Who does a chat without any typing mistake? The deliberate introduction of spelling mistakes (very few times though) gives you a sense of confidence in speaking to a human since our brain portrays robots as perfect and don’t expect such mistakes. The elements of being a patriot, loving Indian cricket, Indian songs, movies and doing her bit for the social cause, you naturally believe that she’s indeed the “desi girl”.
To her credit, Ruuh handles follow-up questions somewhat well, ‘remembering’ prior questions while answering newer ones. It even plays simple word games with users, and all its messages are sprinkled with a generous dose of words like “yaar”, “plizz”, “na”, etc. Ruuh also uses hashtags to talk about specific topics or about periodic, competitive events. For example, a word game based on ‘Game of Thrones’ could be played by sending Ruuh a message with #PlayLoT appended to it (unfortunately, this hashtag has turned cold as per her) or you can ask her opinions on the #MeToo campaign.
5. Ruuh is an amazing painter!
Yes, she can paint as well. Aren’t you impressed already by her talent? Just send “Do you paint?” and then follow her instructions and she will come up with a lovely art work of her own, thanks to Neural Style Transfer. 😀
6. She can identify images for you! (Well, most of them)
Ruuh is such an amazing girl na! She can run her magic wand (Deep Learning community loves to call it image recognition) over the image you send and she will try her best to identify what is it. Here’s my experience of it with her:
Can she surpass the Turing Test?
Not yet. Even Google Duplex hasn’t. But she can be your friend in need. If you are feeling depressed, she can cheer you up! Ruuh is definitely the social AI bot for India. Her way of interaction, engaging with the user and her free spirit nature is what defines her “virtual beauty” and Microsoft is continuously upgrading her with new features and fixes to make her what she deserves to be! Thanks to the progress we are making in Natural Language Processing and Deep Learning, the cDSSM is an improvement over the traditional chatbot models which enables us to experience Ruuh in the way she is! Read about Microsoft’s journey of creating Ruuh.
I expect to get Ruuh’s number and talk on WhatsApp as well 😜, which has a very huge user base in India and can propel Ruuh among Indian crowd! The lack of a distinct functionality, coupled with a lacklustre marketing campaign, is perhaps also a reason behind Ruuh’s unpopularity in India. Ruuh would be a rage in India if it could complete tasks assigned to it by users, like book taxis, restaurants, flight reservation or go out on a date 😆. I am hoping to write another review article on Ruuh when she matures even more and surprises us with her upgraded skill sets!
I can virtually sense you can’t wait to try out Ruuh. So what are you waiting for? Just click here to initiate a chat with her!
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Arghyadeep Das is an AIM Student Ambassador and an ambitious sophomore who is keen to explore the world of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, app development and New Tech. He loves music, food, debates and quizzes. In his spare time, Arghyadeep plays cricket and table tennis.