UPDATED 13:19 EDT / FEBRUARY 15 2023


You.com debuts multimodal AI chatbot for search

Search startup You.com has debuted an artificial intelligence chatbot that can provide natural language answers to user queries, as well as surface related items such as code snippets and graphs.

TechCrunch reported the launch of the chatbot today.

Palo Alto, California-based You.com is a venture-backed startup that competes with Google LLC and Microsoft Corp.’s Bing in the search market. Its search engine, also called You.com, has drawn $45 million in funding from Salesforce Inc. founder Marc Benioff, Norwest Venture Partners and other investors.

Last December, You.com rolled out an AI chatbot called YouChat that can answer user questions in a natural language format. It’s based on an internally developed large language model called C-A-L. The new multimodal search chatbot You.com debuted today is an upgraded version of YouChat. 

Other conversational AI tools, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, focus primarily on providing text-based answers to user queries. According to You.com, its new multimodal chatbot not only generates text answers but also surfaces other types of data in response to search queries. 

When users search for the current price of a company’s shares, YouChat can return a live stock chart. If a developer is seeking assistance with a programming task, YouChat is capable of generating software code. The chatbot can also return images, videos, spreadsheet tables and other items in response to user queries.

You.com displays contextual information related to a user’s query in a sidebar next to the primary search results. The sidebar might, for example, display links to websites explaining Python coding concepts if a user enters a search query related to the programming language.

On occasion of its multimodal chatbot’s launch, You.com told TechCrunch that its search engine has millions of daily users. Moreover, the startup is said to be experiencing “double-digit percentage growth” every month. You.com is reportedly exploring the possibility of making money from its search engine by selling paid AI add-ons and enabling other companies to offer applications to users.

Multimodal search has also emerged as a priority for You.com’s top competitor. At an AI event last week, Google previewed a feature that will enable users to create search queries that combine an image with a text snippet. A user could, for example, input a photo of a desk and the text snippet “matching chair” to find e-commerce stores offering chairs with a similar design.

This month, both Google and Microsoft announced plans to equip their respective search engines with conversational chatbots. Google’s chatbot is based on an internally developed neural network called LaMDA. Microsoft, in turn, is using technology from OpenAI.

Image: You

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