Chatbots power several aspects of our app-based interactions, from finding out where our food is, to checking on returns or replacements when we order a product online. Thanks to conversational AI start-up, Yellow Messenger, chatbots have now begun processing and responding to SOS calls for oxygen cylinders, vaccinations, essential supplies and ICU beds. They’re also being made available free of charge.
Yellow Messenger says it is deploying free chatbots to serve hospitals, non-profit organizations (NGOs) or any service group involved in ongoing COVID emergencies.
“We are working with more than 30 different organizations to help them harness traffic and communications with the help of our chatbots,” says Raghu Ravinutala, Co-Founder and CEO, Yellow Messenger, adding that a large chunk of the company’s chatbots are under development and awaiting deployment.
“We expect volumes of end-user messages and communications to total over 10 million conversations,” Raghu adds, “Every organization we are working with is dealing with a deluge of requests that are presently being handled by humans, including information on vaccinations and finding hospitals. That could soon change.”
‘AI is quicker, more efficient'
The thought process behind deploying chatbots to replace humans while handling COVID-related requests is simply the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Raghu says, is quicker and more efficient.
“The problem we’re facing today is that there are organizations like hospitals that are inundated with requests for beds,” he says, “Getting around that problem can happen when you remove the wait-time that comes with it.”
It is precisely at this juncture that chatbots come into the picture. “AI is good at processing large volumes of inputs and data, and serving users at the same time,” Raghu says, “They can make transactions and process information at the same time. The objective is to save time and quicken processes.”
One of the key result areas of deploying bots lies in locating oxygen cylinders. “Let’s suppose there are one lakh oxygen concentrators available with demand coming in from across over a thousand hospitals across the country,” Raghu explains, “A human being entrusted with the task of deploying cylinders will work on the process sequentially — take calls, check inventories, ship the available oxygen and provide a status update to the hospital in question. All of this takes a lot of time.”
A chatbot in the mix, however, changes things. Processes are executed simultaneously as opposed to sequentially, which means that activities that typically take days can be cut down to a few hours,” Raghu says.
‘Free chatbots till COVID ends’
However, if there’s one activity that humans are undoubtedly better at than AI, it’s that of empathy.
“During times like these, there is no replacement for human emotion when it comes to experiencing and acting on feelings,” Raghu says.
Typically, using Yellow Messenger’s chatbot service for a whole year comes to anywhere between Rs 20 to 35 lakh. That fee is now being waived off with chatbots being offered to COVID emergency information service providers, for free, already notching up half-a-million conversations in the process.
“As long as organizations are using our bots for cases directed at COVID relief and support, we are committed to providing the service for free,” says Raghu, “Once we overcome the crisis, we are happy to discuss a commercial arrangement for these bots, if the need still persists.”
First Published: IST