Microsoft launched the Chinese version of its Cortana digital assistant, called Xiao Na, a few weeks ago with the launch of Windows Phone 8.1 in that country. Now the company is talking more about a related project called XiaoIce ("Little ice") that has been designed to offer human-like conversations on Chinese social networks.
A team at Microsoft's Bing division helped to develop XiaoIce, which can act as an AI friend on networks such as Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter. Last week, Microsoft also added access to Xiaolce in Xiao Na for users of the Developer Preview version of Windows Phone 8.1. The company stated:
"XiaoIce is a sophisticated conversationalist with a distinct personality. She can chime into a conversation with context-specific facts about things like celebrities, sports, or finance but she also has empathy and a sense of humor. Using sentiment analysis, she can adapt her phrasing and responses based on positive or negative cues from her human counterparts. She can tell jokes, recite poetry, share ghost stories, relay song lyrics, pronounce winning lottery numbers and much more. Like a friend, she can carry on extended conversations that can reach hundreds of exchanges in length."
Microsoft said the Bing development team looked at over seven million Chinese public conversations on the Internet to help give XiaoIce more natural and human sounding responses. Currently, XiaoIce has over 850,000 followers on Weibo. Anyone who can understand Mandarin Chinese can check out this digital assistant on the XiaoIce website.