Entrepreneur

Because We're Bad At Managing Our Schedules, 2 Ex-Yahoo Dudes Created An AI Assistant To Help Us

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not unheard of these days. Designed specifically to not only act intelligently, A.I. but help us complete time consuming tasks.

Evie, an A.I personal assistant developed by former Yahoo employees Praveen Velu and Lee Jin Hian, was launched in November 2016.  They began their startup, mimetic.ai in 2014 in order to start the planning and development of Evie. Today, Evie has already started her role as a digital assistant on the site.

Wanting to know about how Evie is making out work lives more productive, we speak to co-founder Praveen Velu. Here’s what he shared with us.

Evie Is Changing The Way We Work

Image Credit: Mimetic.ai

Praveen Velu revealed that Evie was developed due to his and Jin Hian’s inability to manage their working schedules. As they used to work across different time zones back in Yahoo, it was difficult to plan out all the different meeting timings.

“We were experiencing our own difficulties with scheduling where coordinating meetings and calls across teams in five cities proved to be an unnecessarily time consuming task,” Velu said.

In order to streamline planning and get rid of all the hassle, the pair decided to devise an A.I personal assistants. According to Velu, these assistants “are a completely new and growing product category, and scheduling is a good place to start.”

Evie helps users sort out meetings and will automatically contact other parties individually to schedule meetings on the users’ behalf. Moreover, Velu adds that Evie does all the time zone work, sends reminders and also helps chase people for feedback.

The easy-to-use interface allows Evie to be used by anyone, and everyone.

The Significance Of A.I.

The demand for A.I. is increasing, and no one can deny that it is one of the many important tools in today’s world.

As noted by Velu, “there is a growing need for automation tools to help make this happen, especially in a place like Singapore where we’re moving towards becoming a smart nation”.

There is a “rising number of independent workers operating out of co-working spaces who don’t necessarily have a corporate support infrastructure. Evie is a solution that has real applications and benefits for businesses that rely on technology to power their operations,” Velu revealed.

“We expect that a tool like Evie will only help improve productivity in the workplace as she helps to free up more of our time so we can focus on the things that matter most.”

Image Credit: Techinasia

Velu also shared that the most amazing thing about Evie is that it is able to understand human speech and commands.

“There is no need to learn any special commands or syntax because Evie speaks human and understands the language used in emails.”

Velu emphasises that it’s necessary for machines to connect with humans in order to succeed as an AI. It is necessary for for AI-developers to make sure their AI products have the ability to understand human speech and command.

“The machine needs to understand people, time, space and relationships, which is what we’re focused on for now.”

This is impressive in its own right if you think about it, since it is a function also shared by Mark Zuckerberg’s Jarvis, the story of which we covered here. Anyone who can do what Zuckerberg can (somewhat) is definitely already a winner in our book.

Responses To Evie

Image Credit: Mimetic.ai

There has always been a sense of fear and anxiety whenever a new product is being launched. One can never be sure whether the product will be positively received and that is exactly how Velu felt, but his fears dissipated when Evie opened to positive responses.

“It’s been great! We love it when people mistake Evie for an actual person – it really speaks to the performance of the AI,” Velu said.

He also mentioned how some well-known Singapore companies have already started using Evie and have further given positive feedback.

“Some of our early adopters include homegrown brands like Carousell, as well as global brands like MitchelLake,” Velu said.

“To date, Evie has saved users thousands of emails and hundreds of hours, and we’re excited to see this number grow now that we’ve officially launched the product worldwide.”

A.I. And Singapore

The ubiquity of technology and our subsequent reliance on it, will only continue to burgeon its development.

According to Velu, “there is a growing need for automation tools to make this happen, especially since we’re moving towards becoming a smart nation.”

As such, the potential for A.I. technology in Singapore appears almost boundless as innovators like Velu work on digitising lifestyles as well as developing tools that make our work lives easier.

Pertaining to this, Velu stresses that “Evie is designed to help people with tasks, not take away jobs,” re-emphasising the point that it will aid in improving workplace productivity and so that “we can focus on the things that matter most”.

As a final note, Velu also shares a piece of advice for future entrepreneurs,“Launch. Test. Learn”.

Featured Image Credit: Praveen Velu

 

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