A team at the 2015 hackathon has created personal assistant for the WhatsApp messaging platform. Called WhatsBot, the assistant uses a combination of artificial intelligence, location data from Foursquare, and mapping data from Esri in order to help you find places to meet up with friends, family or colleagues.
To use the assistant, you simply add the WhatsBot’s phone number to your WhatsApp contact list, just like adding any other contact. Afterward, the bot can be used in a group chat in order to automatically suggest a meeting spot that’s positioned in between all the different participants’ current locations.
In order for WhatsBot to determine users’ locations, they must first share their position using the feature in WhatsApp that lets you post your coordinates and a map to your group chat. WhatsBot will then thank you for sharing your position and proceed to determine the best coffee shop where everyone can easily meet. Created by a team from England, Spain and France, Pierre Becerril, Nil Sanz, and Camille Zittoun, the idea for WhatsBot was dreamed up at the hackathon this weekend after several hours of discussions and debates.
“We spend so much time on WhatsApp, we thought it would be cool to have more services,” explains Becerril. The founders themselves are highly mobile, moving around from city to city, he says, which means they use WhatsApp all the time. The app helps them stay in touch with those they’re working with, as well as people in other cities, Becerril says.
The concept had additional appeal as WhatsBot’s creators had already been interested in solving challenges around location. In fact, they previously created a travel app for long distance couples called Seeusoon, which was the second runner up at last year’s Hackathon.
While the team has dubbed WhatsBot the first A.I. for WhatsApp, it’s really more of a bot. And there are already several bots built for use in WhatsApp, like WhatsApp Robot, WhatsHash, and another also called WhatsBot, to name a few. But with WhatsApp’s massive footprint, and the rise of app-less virtual assistants, like Facebook’s M which lives in Messenger, the idea to include more functionality in WhatsApp via bots makes sense.
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