Abid Hussain Barlaskar

When Jio used AI to create the Bachchan bot...

This AI-based Video Call Bot was used recently to promote the movie 102 Not Out and managed to engage 1.3 crore people. But wait a second - what exactly is it?

Brands are constantly seeking new ways to interact with consumers. For them, here's something unlike anything seen before - it's called the 'Video Call Bot' and it's been created by the mobile network Jio.

It was used recently for the promotion of a new film, 102 Not Out, featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Bachchan's bot was later followed by Ranbir Kapoor for the movie Sanju and Baba Ramdev for day-to-day yoga tips. According to Jio, an extraordinary number of people - 1.3 crore in all - conversed with Bachchan's Video Call Bot over the fortnight leading up to the film's launch.

When Jio used AI to create the Bachchan bot...

Jio Interact has video call bots for Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Baba Ramdev
Click on the image to enlarge

For most of us who aren't so great with the technology or its history, how does this work?

The idea of using chatbots grew from Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); a must-have section on most websites. FAQs, as we know, is a place where answers to the most commonly asked questions relating to a website or the subject or business it deals with are put in one place. The list of questions is created based on the most common queries received by the company. The FAQs section takes some load off the folks at customer care.

When Jio used AI to create the Bachchan bot...

Fans interacting with Amitabh Bachchan's Video Call Bot over the Jio Interact platform

While the idea of the chatbot has been around since long - the first, Eliza, was created by an MIT professor in 1966 - it has only taken off in the last 10 years. Its revival was sparked by an advanced chatbot created by the Chinese social media platform, WeChat, in 2009.

The textbook definition describes a 'bot' as an independent program which can interact with users and behave like a person. A user can type a query into a chat window and, based on an algorithm, the 'bot' responds by finding the most appropriate response available, basically born out of the FAQs.

Jio claims that its Video Call Bot is an "innovation, that's a first in the world". No tech company has ever created an AI-based Video Call Bot, the brand states. JioInteract is a patented AI-based brand engagement platform and as for the Video Call Bot, it mimics a human by creating vocalised responses. In the recent cases of interaction with the Video Call Bot, the conversations with Bachchan were both in Hindi and in English.

The platform can be accessed from the MyJio application available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Jio emphasises that for FAQs and chatbots, consumers need a certain level of comfort with technology. Even in the case of FAQs, the user is expected to use a search engine and type in a query, most often in English. As for chatbots, the user should have a particular instant messaging app installed on the phone or be able to find the chat box on a brand's website to resolve queries.

In contrast, for the promotion of 102 Not Out, all the user had to do was dial 121 or 70000 70000 on a smartphone and start talking to Big B.

Apart from Bachchan, JioInteract has launched a health and fitness Video Call Bot with Patanjali's Baba Ramdev and another featuring actor Ranbir Kapoor for his movie Sanju. Jio confirms that more such bots, in the areas of finance, banking and entertainment, are in the making.

The Video Call Bot works well in those situations where any form of visual presentation (think car showroom) or personal interaction (think helpline or celebrity interactions) is involved.

According to Jio, brands need a one time, 10-20 day effort and investment to create a Video Call Bot. It can be updated from time to time - just like any website or app - to handle new information, queries and functionalities. It has self-learning capabilities wherein it learns from the millions of conversations to answer new types of queries. More importantly, it is operating system agnostic - it doesn't matter if the consumer uses Android or iOS.

JioInteract also offers a video call facility for those brands or companies that want to get in touch with many people in multiple locations. It could be a company talking to consumers at a product launch, a training programme for a sales force or a CEO wanting to touch base with thousands of retailers.

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