Apple’s Siri works pretty well as a personal assistant but it’s not equipped to be your virtual travel guide. But Desti which, like Siri, is a spin out from SRI International, is launching today in public beta and is looking to take on that job for consumers.
Desti, which is debuting as an iPad app, offers users the ability to pose travel questions and get back specific recommendations on hotels, restaurants and events. The service, which is limited to Northern California for now, was built using SRI’s artificial intelligence technology, combined with natural language processing, semantic search and a travel-specific knowledge base. The system uses contextual clues and what it knows about a user to return relevant results, which are displayed on a very visual results page.
So for instance, I can type in “Hotels near Moscone Center with a gym for under $200,” into the Desti’s instant messenger interface. Desti responds with a batch of results it thinks best match my request. It might just be a handful of places but Desti can show the results it’s confident about.
The results appear like cards with pictures, listing off Desti’s own rating, what amenities the hotel has and what good and important things to keep in mind. It also features additional resources and tips. If it needs more information to help it narrow its search, Desti will ask for it. Users can save a destination in their collection and they can share that with other users.
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