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Conceptual Design of Virtual Personal Assistant

So is this concept of VPA feasible? The details of the conceptual model that shows one possible approach to VPA is defined below.

The system is based on concepts of State Machine, Goals, Rules, Conversation and Interpreter.

State Machine: This is the core of the system. This part of the system determines the flow of the conversation and the actions to perform. It is made up of set of states and state transitions. For each state, there are set of achievable goals and set of knowledge items. These items aid conversation, drive product purchase, supply product research information and personalize. The current state determines the set of goals that this state can achieve. Each goal has set of knowledge items to aid conversation with the customer. The state can have its own set of knowledge items like research items, promotion items or even product items. Every goal and knowledge item has priority to facilitate choosing the highest priority goal and the highest priority knowledge item for a given state. One state can transition to different states, depending on the transition rules and the fulfillment of goals.

Whenever the state has knowledge items associated with it, these knowledge items should be brought to the notice of the customer.

The idea of states with knowledge items needs a little explanation. Suppose VPA is implemented for www.somesite.com in a form of a chat popup and the site has a homepage that shows the current items on sale. As given in the above example, let’s assume that the system has reached “Want TV” state. We see that this state has product articles and promotion articles associated with it. When the system encounters such states which have associated knowledge items, it will bring these knowledge items to the notice of the customer, for example change the home page to reflect the knowledge items associated with the current state. As the conversation flows, the system will keep switching states and the information displayed on the home page will keep changing depending on the knowledge items associated with the state. It is not mandatory for all states to have knowledge items associated with it.

The state transition will be determined based on three conditions

  • Fulfillment of all the associated mandatory goals
  • Fulfillment of non-mandatory goals (optional)
  • Fulfillment of the state transition rules


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