MAI Friend: the (virtual) friend who wants you well

Much more than a simple voice assistant, the MAI Friend app gets to know you to accompany and advise you on a daily basis. A real intelligent friend-companion to experience the digital world.

How about having a really smart virtual friend on your smartphone? Not a simple voice assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri, but a “real” artificial intelligence entity that gets to know you personally so that it can not only inform you, but also chat with you “naturally”, as a friend would do, keep you company, and even stimulate and advise you in your daily life.

It is for this purpose that MAI Friend was created. As its name suggests – MAI, an acronym for Mobile Artificial Intelligence, being a play on words with mywhich means mythis app for Android (version 9.0 and following) which should soon be ported to iOS – uses artificial intelligence and in particular deep learning to get to know its user. and adapt to their specific needs.

MAI Friend: continuous learning

Thus, during installation, you have to choose the gender (male or female) of MAI Friend, give it a first name and define certain parameters, in particular, the voice (three choices per gender), an avatar (among a wide choice of physical), the level of language (sustained, standard or colloquial) and the degree of intervention (discreet, standard or talkative). Therefore, by calling him with a key phrase with his first name, we can start the conversation and start learning. MAI Friend thus asks many questions about the identity, location, professional activity and, above all, the tastes of the user. A few hours are enough for him to gather enough information and fuel a discussion. Thus, if you are a football fan, MAI Friend will keep you informed of the results of the latest matches and will give you news of your favorite club. Ditto for music: it will be able to notify you of concerts or the release of albums by artists that interest you, according to the tastes that you have declared. And the same goes for all types of subjects, or almost, whether it’s cinema, cooking, decoration, fashion, travel or even manual work like patchwork.

To work, MAI Friend obviously requires an Internet connection, whether 4G/5G or Wi-Fi. Therefore, depending on your requests, it can provide you with information like a traditional voice assistant would, by looking for answers to your questions. on the Internet (to find out the opening hours of a shop, find a movie showing, make calculations, etc.). But as it learns, it can go much further and unearth information on its own that you did not ask for. This is what allows him to hold real conversations, gradually taking the initiative to broach subjects, sharing anecdotes or even telling jokes – the degree and type of humor being obviously configurable .

Designed primarily for single people, MAI Friend can thus tarnish company during a meal or an evening, by naturally fueling the conversation, like a physical friend. Depending on the degree of intervention chosen, he can remain discreet (while waiting for you to relaunch him) or, on the contrary, talkative (by systematically speaking up). And depending on the mode of language chosen, speak familiarly, even rudely, or in a more serious tone, with a refined vocabulary.

MAI Friend: an attentive and zealous adviser

But he can do much more, depending on the permissions you give him, and turn into a coach or an advisor. Thus, if in addition to the microphone (essential for chatting), he has access to the front camera of the smartphone, he can learn to recognize your face, analyze your environment and even your behavior. Always thanks to learning, he will know if you are at home – and even in which room exactly -, or outside, and adapt the conversation to the situation. For example, by telling you a cooking recipe when mealtime approaches, or a TV program to watch in the evening, always according to your tastes and habits. Even better, if you have decided to get back to sport or diet before the summer, he will give you advice to motivate you, reviving you if necessary as soon as he detects abusive behavior. He is even able to lecture you if he sees you lighting a cigarette when you are supposed to have quit smoking!

MAI Friend can be even more intimate. If, in its “proximity” settings, you let it access your SMS, your emails, your instant messaging (WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger, etc.) or your social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), it will be able, after a learning period, to analyze your digital conversations and map your family, friends or professional network. It will thus be able not only to notify you of special events (birthdays, meetings, medical appointments, etc.), but also to notify you of information worthy of interest in your surroundings, always by scanning the Web. Over time and as it learns, and thanks to evolving algorithms, it will even be able to advise you in your relationships, by suggesting responses to send, invitations to broadcast, initiatives to take or attitudes to adopt, including included in romantic relationships.

MAI Friend: an increasingly close virtual friend

Developed by MAI Brain, a Grenoble start-up comprising several researchers in artificial intelligence, MAI Friend promises other spectacular developments, once its installed base is sufficiently supplied. Thus, the app can be used during group conversations, during a party for example, by taking part in the conversation as a very real participant, while collecting information on the people present. In the near future, virtual friends of friendly users in the physical world will be able to get in touch directly and exchange news about their respective owners, to fuel their one-on-one conversations and personalized advice. A family-oriented version, which would simulate a virtual parent (father, mother, brother, sister, cousin, cousin, etc.) would also be in preparation. And a variation with an avatar for the metaverse of Meta would be under study.

Available in a free but limited trial version, MAI Friend is sold at 25 euros. A price higher than that of most Android apps, but which remains derisory in view of its innovative character and the technologies used. Especially since a friend is priceless. MAI Brain is, however, investigating the possibility of a free full version, with ad-supported guidance. To find out all about MAI Friend, go to publisher’s website.

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MAI Friend: the (virtual) friend who wants you well

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