Build Great Conversational Bots Using Azure Bot Service & LUIS (Both Services Now Generally Available)

Re-posted from the Microsoft Azure blog.

Conversational AI, or making human and computer interactions more natural, has been a goal of computer scientists for a long time. In support of that longstanding quest, we are excited to announce the general availability of two key Microsoft Azure services that streamline the creation of interactive conversational bots, namely the Azure Bot Service and the Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS).

The Azure Bot Service helps developers create conversational interfaces on multiple channels. LUIS helps developers create customized natural interactions on any platform for any type of application, including bots. With these two services now generally available on Azure, developers can easily build custom models that naturally interpret the intentions of users who converse with their bots.

We are also introducing new capabilities in each service. Azure Bot Service is now available in more regions, offers premium channels to communicate better with users, and provides advanced customization capabilities. LUIS now has an updated user interface, is available in more regions as well, and helps developers create substantially richer conversational experiences in their apps. More detailed information about the new features of Azure Bot Service and LUIS can be obtained here.

LUIS, in fact, is just one part of Microsoft's Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligent APIs that enables systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our world using natural modes of communication. Many Cognitive Services offer a high degree of customizability and businesses can tailor them for their unique AI needs. These capabilities allow bots to be trained on the vocabulary of any domain, such as understanding what items customers are ordering from a fast food restaurant menu, to cite one example.

Over 760,000 developers from 60 countries are using our Cognitive Services to add intelligent capabilities to their applications. Over 240,000 developers have signed up to use the Azure Bot Service, using it for everything they need to build intelligent software agents. Furthermore, thousands of real world customers have developed and deployed intelligent apps using these services, customers such as Molson Coors, UPS, Dixons Carphone, Equadex, Human Interact, Sabre and many more.

To take the UPS example, they have been able to improve customer service and increase the efficiency of their IT staff using the UPS Bot, a sophisticated agent that allows customers to interact via text and voice and get the information they need about shipments, rates, UPS locations and more.

"Within five weeks, we had developed a chatbot prototype with the Microsoft bot technology. Our Chief Information and Engineering Officer loved it and asked that we get a version into production in just two months…and that's just what we did."

– Kumar Athreya, Senior Applications Development Manager of Shipping Systems, UPS.

You can learn more about these exciting announcements at our original blog post here. Then get started on these technologies and build yourself a great conversationalist!

ML Blog Team