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Property News05 Jul 2016

SRX: Sevi chatbot, everyones personal property agent assistant

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AN artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that acts as a property agent's personal assistant has been launched for the Singapore property market by real estate software firm StreetSine.

Dubbed Sevi, the chatbot will interact with users in English, and answers property-related queries in real-time, StreetSine said on Monday. The firm operates the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX).

Questions will run the gamut, ranging from market valuations, to listing availabilities and plot ratios; the chatbot can also compare properties and steer consumers to qualified real estate agents. It is believed to be a first for the real estate sector here, StreetSine said.

The firm, a majority-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, added that Sevi is a "game-changer", as it brings "efficiency to the complex process of transacting and financing real estate".

Sevi will be able to "learn" from its interactions with users through machine learning, so that it is "always improving its service to agents and consumers", StreetSine said.

To use the chatbot, which is available on Facebook Messenger, SRX Property and STProperty, users send a query - "Is it cheaper to rent near Novena MRT or Newton MRT?" - and Sevi will respond "in a matter of seconds" in real-time.

Sevi will be made available to other carrier platforms, such as WhatsApp and WeChat, once they introduce the chatbot function in their platforms, StreetSine said.

While Sevi can only provide accurate answers to queries in the English language for now, a multilingual version of the AI is in the works.

"Actually, you are able to talk to Sevi in Mandarin and Malay now - it's just that the information might not be necessarily correct," StreetSine's chief technology officer and co-founder Jeremy Lee told The Business Times.

A version of Sevi that can respond accurately to queries in Mandarin and Malay could take "about two months" to roll out, Mr Lee said.

As the chatbot extends its capabilities to multiple languages, growing its service beyond Singapore's shores is on the cards for StreetSine as well.

"We will let it learn from the Singapore property market first, before expanding the service overseas," Mr Lee told BT.

A time frame for rolling out the service to other countries - for instance, Hong Kong, where the firm has a presence - will "depend heavily on the maturity" of chatbots in those countries, he added.

Sevi's launch comes on the back of social networking giant Facebook revamping its suite of chatbot functionalities in a bid to simplify the navigation of its bots on Facebook Messenger.

With some 11,000 bots built since the platform made its debut on Messenger 12 weeks ago, Sevi joins a legion of AI personal assistants looking to simplify user experiences.

Google too, is making its foray into the chatbot space. At its I/O conference last month, it revealed an app, Allo, which, like Sevi, will allow users to ask questions and receive answers. Allo will be available later this year.

The Business Times

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