eGain Gets Curious And Launches Virtual Agent

by Michael Singer

Two wireless Web tech firms show off their virtual "help desk" for PDAs and 2-way pagers in Chicago this week.

How'd you like to have a conversation directly with your Internet-ready PDA or 2-way pager about your flight time, gate assignments, stock quotes, account balances or the status of your order?

It's called a "wireless virtual agent," and the two companies who developed it are on the road this week showing it off at the Call Center Management (ICCM) show in Chicago.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based eGain and Chicago-based Curious Networks jointly worked on the virtual agent, which combines two separate items: eGain's Assistant and Curious' Continuum Embedded software.

A life-like conversational interface software, eGain Assistant offers a simple and natural language dialog for users accessing handheld devices. Curious' Continuum Embedded software simplifies wireless deployment by way of a presentation server that optimizes software for all variations of Internet-enabled mobile phones, Palm, RIM, and Windows CE devices.

So instead of cramming the content from an entire Web page into the confines of a small display, eGain Assistant gives users specific, detailed information to their inquiries, free of extra content such as pages of links, menus and icons.

The assistant uses natural language dialog and recognizes abbreviations and mnemonics, such as "r" as a shortcut for "are," and "u" as a shortcut for "you." The agent also embeds possible responses as links that can simply be tapped rather than typed, for example, a link for the word "yes."

The agent also has a learning interface that remembers facts give to it. If a user tells the virtual agent a zip code or similar data, the agent knows not to ask for that information again.

eGain and Curious Networks say they were able to create a wireless version of eGain Assistant in record time because both companies support open standards like XML.

"Curious Networks is a great go-to-market partner for wireless development," says eGain executive Thomas Rearick. "We were very impressed that with Continuum Embedded we were able to deploy eGain Assistant to all mobile devices in a fraction of the time we expected."

The two companies say they are in the process of formalizing a partnership to serve mutual corporate customers.

Reprinted from siliconvalley.internet.com.

  This article was originally published on Wednesday Aug 1st 2001
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