Microsoft is working on multiple chat bots it's counting on to make employees more productive.Credit: Microsoft
The company announced two years ago its Calendar.help scheduling bot, which remains in preview. The company also is working on another conversational bot, named "SwitchBot," that's designed to improve workers' focus.
Information about SwitchBot was made public in the form of a research paper published on April 21 for the 2018 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
SwitchBot is a Skype bot that aims to help workers detach and then reengage at the start and end of their workdays. It's goal: To make workers more productive by getting workers to better use their time on and off the job.
Microsoft researchers developed a detachment and reattchment dialog framework and tested it for a couple of weeks with 34 information workers. The findings: Workers sent fewer emails after work hours and spent a larger percentage of their first hour at work using productivity applications than they normally would.
"Productivity gains were better sustained when conversations focused on work-related emotions," according to the researchers involved with the SwitchBot project.
Microsoft researchers built SwitchBot using the Microsoft Bot Framework and its machine-learning service, Language Understanding and Intent Service (LUIS). They designed task-centric dialogues (such as "What did you work on today?") and emotion-centric dialogues ("How did you feel about work today?").
One of the authors of the paper is Jaime Teevan, who is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Technical Advisor and a former Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research AI. Teevan also has been part of the group that has been working on Calendar.help.