Apple’s Siri and Wolfram Alpha: Artificial Intelligence Driving Innovation

Artificial intelligence app Siri has teamed up with Wolfram Alpha to greatly improve on query returns. The Apple-acquired iPhone app was already considered the mother of all mashups, but the inclusion of data from Wolfram Alpha makes Siri’s problem-solving tools that much better.

The result of the new deal is more straight-forward answers from Siri’s AI. Ask the voice-activated mobile app just about anything, and it will give you a response more useful than a list of links. The simplest of questions, such as “what’s that Robert DiNero movie?” will be answered with a list of the actor’s films, and Dinero movie show times at a theater near you. Wolfram Alpha takes the next step for re-purposing data pulled from various sites and services, further helping you take action around your request. ReadWriteWeb offers some great insight, noting the growing potential behind the Wolfram Alpha deal,

“While the app told us that we were “stretching its capabilities” when we asked it “What’s the circumference of the Earth?”, it quickly answered, using Wolfram Alpha, that the Earth’s equatorial circumference was 24,901.47 miles. Where before we relied on Siri to ask simple questions about a specific set of real life situations, we now feel comfortable asking it the most inane of questions. The addition of Wolfram Alpha turns Siri into much more than simply a virtual personal assistant. It’s now a virtual personal researcher, too.”

As businesses around mobile apps develop around specific consumer needs, it becomes mor evident that a great deal of innovation will be spewing out of smartphones over the next few years. The only way for a smartphone to truly be smart is to let the apps lean on each other. This puts the consumer at the center of app interaction, creating quite the junction for products, services and marketing.

We’ve been watching the development of Siri for some time now; Mark happened to be at SXSW when the acquisition of Siri first began to bud. Noting its importance for the innovation required to be a leader in the mobile marketplace, Alex Calic puts Apple’s use of Siri at the forefront of the industry. Siri’s ability to cross-reference and re-purpose data for personal use gives Apple some serious insight into consumer, location, retail, search and app analytics.

Not only are these all opportunities for Apple to create advertising channels, but they can all overlap and cross-promote each other, while also giving Apple a great deal of research that can be applied to all of its products and services–from handset design to in-app purchase recommendations. It’s these recommendations that have a huge amount of consumer potential, even as they will one day enable our smartphones to anticipate our every need.

One day, however, this won’t be enough. Siri is an ambitious mobile app, but its still in the infant stages of what smartphones will really be able to do. Knowing this, the battle to win over the mobile search field is already getting fierce. Microsoft Bing and Google are both building up their own branded answer engines, centered around their mobile (geo-local) search tools.