Xtranormal and Cognitov redefine man, machine, hype

Users are already used to having “virtual assistants” handle their everyday chores and high-volume data crunching, but up to now “virtual” has stood for “some guy in a city far away from me.” But Montreal-based companies Xtranormal and Cognitov are aiming to put the virtual back in assistant with avatars that can interact with the real world while accessing terabytes of information in nanoseconds. According to the two companies, their semantic and text analysis tools give the avatars the ability to meaningfully interact with humans,specifically through Xtranormal’s Text-to-Movie technology, “allowing for assistants, sales reps, councilors and communicators virtually anywhere,” according to their press release.

The release goes onto use the term “paradigm” and “next level”, and it remains to be seen if these avatars can pass the Turing test. But given the current dire state of the economy, an assistant that costs very little and doesn’t needs benefits, an RRSP or even a lunch break could be very useful, “next level or not.”