Google is taking the hassle out of making a restaurant reservation.Using kicked-up artificial intelligence, the search giant’s new tech, dubbed Google Duplex, will call a restaurant when asked and set that dinner reservation for you.
At an Upper East Side eatery last week, a test drive of the enhanced Google Duplex worked seamlessly.When asked, Google Duplex placed the call to THEP Thai and, in an eerily human-like voice, chatted with the restaurant’s host to arrange a table for two.
The engineers at Google even programmed in plenty of human-like “ums” and “uhs” just for good measure.The system makes sure to introduce itself as “the Google Assistant” at the start of the call, and follows up by informing the host of your desired reservation time.
Hungry users of Google Duplex give the Google Assistant a range of times — say 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. — within which to make the reservation just in case the first time is fully booked.During a demo, Google Duplex wasn’t stumped even when I altered my speech pattern or threw questions about the reservation its way.
Google Duplex easily handled follow-up questions from the host about party size and alternate reservation times.Once Google Duplex is told by the host that the reservation is complete, it responds with a casual-sounding, “Awesome, thanks!”
The tech has been developed, Google says, because 60 percent of small businesses that rely on customer bookings don’t actually have an online booking system set up.Duplex is meant to make the process easier for customers while also attracting more business to restaurants.
Google will begin public testing of Duplex this summer with a select number of restaurants, but it will be limited to only asking for store hours. As the system gets more hours under its belt, it will be expanded to booking restaurant reservations as well as haircut appointments.
Safeguards will be put in place, Google says, to ensure that nobody can abuse Duplex to reserve all the seats in a restaurant, or all the restaurants in a neighborhood.Restaurants will also be given the option to opt out of Google Duplex calls.