Bots will soon be able to join video conversations in 1:1 and group Skype calls, Microsoft announced today.
Bot builders can use the BotBuilder RealTimeMediaCalling extension on Github, now in preview, to bring Skype bots into video conversations. A software development kit for the creation of interactive Skype video bots will be released at an undetermined date, a Skype spokesperson told VentureBeat.
“This platform provides real-time, voice and video streams of a Skype call which allows developers to build personal, immersive communications experiences with services and brands,” Skype said in a blog post today.
Video bots will be able to do a vast range of things. Beyond brand marketing, video bots could act as your virtual secretary online, or interview a job applicant in a mock interview. AI smarts like sentiment and mood tracking could then be used to grade the readiness of a job applicant.
Other changes to Skype available in preview today include the ability to embed web chat — either human or bot — right on a website. Doing so will allow a merchant or organization to handle customer service on Skype. The move puts Skype squarely in competition with other live chat services for customer service, from Facebook Messenger to established industry players like LivePerson or startups like Smooch.
But bots aren’t just coming to the web — the web is also coming to bots. Skype Add-Ins is also in preview starting today. Add-Ins get a dedicated tab in Skype and operate in a webview, much like the chat extensions that were added to Facebook Messenger three weeks ago.
To test new features like Add-Ins, join the waitlist or download the Skype Preview app in the Android app store.
Much has happened this week in the AI-bot-chat app sphere for Microsoft. In addition to changes to Skype today, Microsoft Bot Framework channels to publish a bot were extended to Skype for Business, Cortana, and Bing.com search results. The framework is now able to use a Microsoft payments API for transactions. The Cortana Skills Kit is now in public preview, and a selection of 20 some-odd Cortana skills were also made available today.
Earlier this week, Harman Kardon Invoke, which will feature Skype and Cortana, was given a launch window of this fall. Other Cortana-enabled devices are also on the way in partnership with HP and Intel, Microsoft announced today.