Picniic Launches Pia, A Virtual Assistant for Families

A family assistant just got a little more personal.

Picniic—a digital organizer that brings family activity data into one central hub—just launched its virtual assistant: a persona named Pia.

Leveraging data from Picniic, Pia adds another layer to the dashboard by learning a family’s habits to anticipate needs over time and make recommendations on how to stay on top of things.

With no assistant specifically designed for families on the market, CEO Michael Cole and co-founder Ivan Tung launched Picniic a year ago. Their goal was to help families by bringing their activities, tasks and data into one place. The shared family schedule is accessible by all family members on smartphones, tablets or even online.

“Picniic understands the family in their context of everyday. But we felt there was a gap,” said Cole.

Vancouver-based Picniic created Pia to bridge that gap and built an intelligent persona whose goal is to be one step ahead of a family.

“Our users are very active on Picniic, but families can forget things or maybe two parents aren’t on the same page,” said Cole. “Pia can look at the data and reach out to you. We’re moving from being reactive to proactive.”

Users can interact with Pia through voice command or intuitive quick reply buttons. Unlike assistants like Siri or Alexa, Pia doesn’t yet communicate through a voice. Instead, the virtual assistant reaches out to users through text notifications that are often accompanied with GIFs and emojis. Described as ‘witty,’ Cole said that with every interaction, they want Pia to put a smile on your face. 

“Even if you’re having a stressful day, we’re trying to take some of that off of you,” said Cole.

Users can set up what kind of notifications they want, whether that’s a morning rundown of what a family has coming up that day or a snapshot in the evening of the next day. The virtual assistant can also recognize when a family has a free weekend and offer recommendations for what to do. It can check the weather and send along the forecast if a family has an outside activity planned.

“We’re looking to tighten connections within families,” said Cole. “If you’re the parent who doesn’t typically take your kid to the doctor, Pia knows to send you a reminder.”

Integrated with third-party applications, Picniic builds a unique family calendar that can incorporate to-dos, shopping lists, a family’s chore chart and more. Premium paid-for features include a meal planner, encrypted info locker, and a family locator. Picniic is free and available for download on iOS and Android.