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Lilian Rincon
Skype Group Program Manager discusses Skype bot technology at Microsoft Envision

NEW ORLEANS, La. — What would it be like to interact with your favorite video game character in a live video chat? Or how about if your child wanted to talk with their favorite cartoon character?

Using a combination of artificial intelligence and 3D rendering, Microsoft is demonstrating a future where businesses, brands and content providers can build this experience in Skype using something called a video bot.

Microsoft representatives gave GeekWire a sneak preview of the video bot technology Monday morning at its Envision event. To interact with a video bot, you place a Skype call to the bot. For example, you could call Elsa from the movie Frozen, or perhaps interact with Master Chief from Halo.

The video bot is able to understand conversations with you using AI. The video bot can respond based on the conversation and change things dynamically in the 3D-rendered environment.

“I’m sure you can guess, it’s an exciting area for us,” said Lee Ott, Partner Director of Product Management for Skype. “It’s a very compelling medium, especially when you think about the number of minutes spent in Skype. It’s a very compelling environment to put some really great content.”

Skype video bots are part of Satya Nadella’s larger push for “conversation as a platform” announced at Microsoft’s Build conference last week.

Skype bot APIs are available through the Skype developer program. Currently the Skype APIs allow developers to build text and image-based bots, along with early access APIs to build audio-response bots. The ability to build a video bot is still under development and the company has not yet announced a timeline for video bot availability.

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