The “Open-ended Conversational System” project, developed by a team from Real Thing and RMIT University’s School of Computer Science and IT, won the 2011 Telstra Innovation Challenge. It fuses software agents and knowledge engineering to recreate normal conversation, except without the human element and the associated cost or errors.
“We knew we had a strong idea, but it’s fantastic to win, a great honour,” Dr John Thangarajah, a Senior Lecturer at RMIT and the team member who pitched the project to Telstra, said. “Our system could prove to be better – more efficient and cheaper – than a call centre or a normal online search and could even replace call centres in the long run, which both customers and the companies themselves recognise as being problematic.”
Dr Thangarajah saw the potential to apply this to the realm of information and communications technologies. “A Google search will give you an answer to your query, but you can’t query further along that same context; ie, you can’t have a conversation with Google about what you’re looking for,” he said.
See article in The Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/conversation-calls-time-on-call-centre-staff/story-e6frgakx-1226251657889