By Janet Wagner
Chatbots are popping up just about everywhere these days – on your smartphone, in your connected car, on many of the websites you visit. It’s hard not to get excited about chatbots when so many companies are using AI technologies and APIs to build such innovative and amazing chat apps.
For example, researchers at Microsoft are developing an AI-powered “drawing bot” that draws a picture based on a text description provided by the user, e.g. “a yellow bird, sitting on a tree branch.” The content of each bot-drawn picture is created by the computer from scratch, pixel by pixel. Some of that content may not even exist in the real world – only in the AI system’s “imagination.”
Scientists at Stanford University created a cognitive behavior therapy chatbot called Woebot. Woebot chats with users asking them how they feel and about the various things going on in their lives. Among the bot’s capabilities are mood tracking and teaching users Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques.
Ubisoft recently launched Sam (beta, Canada only), a virtual gaming personal assistant embedded in the Ubisoft Club mobile app. Users type or verbally ask Sam Ubisoft game-related questions, and the chatbot returns the relevant information. For example, you could ask Sam general advice about Assassin’s Creed Origins or how many hours you’ve played Rainbow Six Siege.
With so many amazing chatbots available today, we thought we would highlight a few APIs developers could use to build their own innovative chatbots.
Facebook Messenger is home to more than 100,000 bots, but not all of them are chatbots. Some bots on Messenger rely on touch input in order to select menu options– they’re still bots, just not chatbots. The Facebook Messenger Platform provides a wide array of tools developers could use to build Facebook Messenger bots, including chatbots.
Among the Facebook Messenger Platform’s key integration components are APIs, webhook events, buttons, and message templates. The API documentation is comprehensive and easy to follow. The documentation includes a pre-launch checklist, integration components reference list, and a getting started guide with several examples of Messenger bots and the corresponding code. The Facebook Messenger Platform also features Built-In NLP (Natural Language Processing). The APIs and tools are free to use with some limitations, so be sure to review the TOS.
Slack is a collaboration tools platform, and the company provides APIs and tools developers could use to build apps for Slack, including chatbots. Developers could use Slack APIs to build apps for internal use only or apps to share with other Slack users (Slack App Directory).
The Slack API documentation is well organized and thorough. The company provides several official SDKs (Node.js, Python, and Hubot), and there’s numerous libraries, plugins, and sample apps available. The documentation includes a section specifically about building bot users. Bot users interact with workspaces programmatically via Slack APIs. Slack APIs are free to use, but there are limits. Be sure to review the TOS.
Telegram is a free, cloud-based messaging app that allows users to send messages and media (files, photos, and videos), and make voice calls. Among the app’s many features are seamless synchronization across devices, timed message destruction, and photo editor. Telegram provides two APIs: Telegram API for building customized Telegram clients and the Telegram Bot API for connecting third-party bots to the Telegram system.
The API documentation is comprehensive and fairly easy to follow (the documentation could be better organized). The documentation includes an “Introduction to Bots” section that contains information about enabling bots to accept payments from Telegram users. Developers can chat with Telegram’s BotFather to find out how to create new bots and change settings for existing bots. Telegram APIs are free to use but there are some limitations, so be sure to read the bot FAQ.
The Possibilities are Endless
Today there are chatbots for travel, banking, gaming, healthcare, and so much more. When it comes to chatbots, the possibilities are endless.