NoHold, a company with a long history of building chatbots for use in customer service scenarios, announced a new feature of its Sicura QuickStart product that’s designed to make it easier for people to create functionality for the Google Assistant.
The change will allow customers to feed QuickStart a support document like a manual or FAQ, which will then produce a bot that can answer questions about the contents for that file. After that, customers can opt to connect the resulting bot to the Google Assistant with a couple clicks.
They’ll be asked to give their bot a name, and after that, customers will be able to talk to the bot through the Google Assistant. The key phrase is “Ok Google, ask Albert AI about [name of bot],” which will then connect to the relevant bot created by a customer.
In practice, it feels a bit clunky compared to other skills, but it could be a boon for businesses that don’t want to spend all their time developing a Google Assistant skill but still want a presence in the voice assistant ecosystem.
One of the biggest issues in the creation of virtual assistant skills at the moment is that companies have to devote time to building out a system that’s functional and works properly. NoHold is trying to help businesses sidestep the complex programming and get a foothold in the chatbot realm.
NoHold’s work could help Google get a leg up over Amazon and other virtual assistant vendors, since bringing third-party skills onto each platform is one of the key areas of competition between those different vendors. NoHold CEO Diego Ventura said in an interview with VentureBeat that he sees the feature being useful for a variety of tasks, such as allowing people in an office to create a virtual assistant that their coworkers can ask questions of while the person who created it is away on vacation.
Right now, the feature is only available to users of Sicura QuickStart Pro, the paid version of NoHold’s service for turning documents into bots. People who don’t want to pay can still try out the underlying QuickStart service, but won’t be able to make the resulting bot available through the Google Assistant.