Sirius: Like Siri, but it’s open source and backed by Google

Move over, Siri, Google Now and Cortana? There’s a new intelligent personal assistant in town, and its name is Sirius.

Actually, there could be a boatload of new assistants. The University of Michigan’s Clarity Lab has developed a free, customizable software platform that can help people create their very own Siri.

“What we tried to do… is have a starting point that is as intelligent as what you would find in these proprietary environments,” Jason Mars, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at University of Michigan and co-director of Clarity Lab, said in a video (below) about Sirius. Mars likens Sirius to Linux, the open-source computer operating system.

The demo version of Sirius is based on Wikipedia. Clarity Lab researchers loaded it with information from the online encyclopedia, and answers to users’ questions are drawn from that information. In the same way, developers could take other databases of knowledge and create virtual assistants that perhaps specialize in certain subjects. For example, University of Michigan researchers are reportedly working with IBM on an assistant for academic advising.

Sirius technology is funded by Google, ARM, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation, and is a blend of other open-source projects. From the press release:

  • Speech recognition came from Carnegie Mellon University’s Sphinx, Microsoft Research’s Kaldi and Germany’s RWTH Aachen “RASR” project.
  • The question-and-answer system came from OpenEphyra, which laid the foundation for IBM’s Watson (of “Jeopardy” fame).
  • Image recognition came from the SURF computer-vision algorithm behind Swiss tech entrepreneur Herbert Bay’s company Kooaba, which was recently acquired by Qualcomm.

The researchers presented their paper (PDF) over the weekend at the International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems in Turkey. Included in their research was a look at how servers can handle the computing workload that systems such as Sirius require. The paper mentions that smartwatches and other wearables are “heavily reliant on voice and image input,” which “further indicates that rapid growth in user demand for IPA (intelligent personal assistant) services is on the horizon.”

 

At top: Photo of Siri’s interface on a big screen by Gary Reyes/Mercury News. Siri and other intelligent personal assistants were the inspiration for Sirius.

 

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  • مهدی

    Thanks , Very Good!
    I love GNU/Linux
    GNU is Linux Spirit !

 
 
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