Google Duplex, the artificial intelligence-based reservation-by-phone service the company introduced at its I/O 2018 conference, will launch in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco by the end of the year. Pixel phone users will get the first opportunity to use the service.
Restaurants supporting Duplex reservations will list that support on their Google Maps listing while Google Assistant will be able to process the request for end users.
Duplex uses natural vocal processing including tonal changes and filler words like “um” and “ah” when making calls on behalf of Google users to restaurants to ask for tables at certain times. When it reaches an impasse where it cannot handle an interaction, Duplex passes the conversation onto a Google call center.
It was initially tested on restaurants without an in-call disclosure, but, as WIRED reports, Duplex will roll out with a simple disclosure statement at the start of the conversation, noting that it will record the call.
Google project lead Nick Fox expects that Duplex will stimulate more adoption of online reservation systems. Those without may suffer from less traffic.
“Those businesses lose out because people say ‘Unless I can book this online I’m not going to book,'” Fox said.
However, the foodservice industry is anxious because it has seen no advance cooperation with Google.
“If you truly believe this is going to be helpful, why not work with us?,” said Gwyneth Borden of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
When reached for comment, Google said it would begin contacting organizations.
Consumer advocates are working on legislation to have bot callers identify themselves as such to avoid any misrepresentations and deception.