Happy birthday, Salute! Salute virtual assistants – Sber, Athena, Joy – turn one

Sep 24, 2021

Today is the first birthday of the Salute virtual assistants – Sber, Athena, and Joy were presented at the large-scale conference SberConf last year. Over this time, 20+ million people have used their assistance or simply chatted with them, while the number of monthly active users (MAU) neared six million in the second quarter of 2021.

SberDevices, the team that created the Salute family, has developed a birthday skill uniting some interesting facts about how users interacted with Sber, Athena, and Joy during their first year. Use the code phrase “Happy birthday, Salute!” to learn how many times the assistants have helped around the house, the groceries users ordered more often, how many times they have heard the words “thank you” and “I love you”, how often they told funny stories, and the listening time of the most popular artists. Moreover, to celebrate the assistants’ birthday, SberSound has made available some playlists with hidden messages by Sber, Athena and Joy.

Highlights:

  • Over 20 million people met with the Salute assistants over the year
  • 6 million active monthly users
  • 800 apps designed for the virtual assistants on SmartMarket
  • Assistants reacted to 1.2 mn gestures, with ‘like’ being the most popular one
  • Nearly RUB 9 bn the assistants transferred since their launch
  • Over 1,800 brokerage accounts opened via the assistants
  • 50,000 investment-related questions a month received
  • 22,300 people asked the assistants to put on the movie A Dog Named Palma
  • 2,784 days is the watch time for the Masha and the Bear animated TV series
  • 67,000 news stories launched by the assistants
  • “Why is the Sun so hot?” is the most popular question the assistants are asked
  • 300 kg of popcorn ordered using the assistants
  • 53 regions – the geography of the service letting users make reservations at restaurants, beauty parlors, and make appointments in outpatient clinics.

AI with emotional intelligence

The Salute assistants are three characters with different emotional scenarios. There is Sber, an intelligent assistant whose humor is gentle. Athena embodies composure and calmness, and there is the cheerful optimist and extrovert Joy. Over the past year, their "characters" have evolved, assistants have become even more empathic, they better understand users and can maintain a lively dialogue, know how to leave emotional comments to a variety of user requests. For example, if you ask about the weather when there is a thunderstorm and a downpour outside, after announcing the forecast, a caring assistant will recommend that you wait a little before leaving the house.

Throughout the past 12 months, the Salute assistants have led an active social life. Athena participated in a session on artificial intelligence at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) and even asked her question to the President of the Russian Federation personally at the AI ​​Journey 2020 conference. Joy hosts a show on SberPrime TV. The assistants were out there on special days – they gave New Year gifts, told the story of the first victorious fireworks of 1943, gave parents some Internet safety tips on Children’s Day, kept fans posted on the latest events during the main sports competitions of the summer, entertained the fans of a music award, and immersed users in the world of romanticism in art together with Tretyakov Gallery experts.

More points in common

Today you can ask for the assistants’ help using the SberBank Online and Sber Salute mobile applications, but also the expanded line of Sber smart devices and TVs running on Salute TV OS. The assistants are multimodal – depending on the surface, you can interact with them by voice, touch, using the remote control and even gestures in different combinations. Over the past year, Sber, Athena, and Joy have reacted to more than 1.2 million gestures, but most often they were asked to ‘like’ a song (thumb up). The virtual assistants are widely appearing on new surfaces, like Sber ecosystem applications (you can already interact with them via the SberSound audio streaming service app on Android, soon it will be available on iOS).

Where they receive training

The assistants have been learning new things throughout the year. To date, the Sber team and independent developers have launched about 800 smart apps for the assistants. To teach the Salute family new skills easily and conveniently, Sber opened the SmartMarket platform for third-party developers. SmartMarket is a marketplace with tools to create skills and applications for the assistants. Less than a year later, in May 2021, SmartMarket became a one-stop source for all Sber technologies. Platform V PaaS services, SberCloud services, technologies by SberDevices technologies, machine learning models and much more are available on the platform.

Personal financial advisor

The virtual assistants’ integration into the Sberbank Online mobile application enabled Sberbank customers to save time on routine financial transactions, for example, to make quick money transfers using voice. Users appreciated this function and transferred about RUB 9 bn with the help of the assistants over the past year. Assisted remittance takes an average of 17 seconds from saying a phrase to receiving the money, while the fastest users manage to do it in just 3 seconds. The assistants have learned a variety of other financial skills: they help to exchange currencies and analyze income and expenses, noticing interesting patterns. The assistants have acquired investment skills and won FINAWARD 2021 prizes for that: they will help you open a brokerage account, deal with rates, inform you about stock quotes traded on the Moscow Exchange and Russian stock indices, and explain some financial terms to you. The Salute assistants have helped Sberbank clients open more than 1,800 brokerage accounts, each month they answer an average of 50,000 inquiries from investors, and they set a record in June by processing over 100,000 questions about the stock market and brokerage services at Sberbank.

Sber, Athena, and Joy will give you detailed information about what mutual funds are, which can be found at Sber and what their terms are. Not only do users receive comprehensive information, but can also opt for the most popular turn-key investment solutions: buy any Sber Asset Management fund, invest in a personal investment account with a discretionary investment management strategy or the Dollar Bonds discretionary investment management strategy. The virtual assistants can also answer questions about endowment and investment life insurance by SberInsurance and help to take out the insurance policy you need. In the Sberbank Online application, the assistants will tell you about SberInsurance products, will advise you how to save for retirement by choosing an individual pension plan by SberNPF, and give compulsory pension insurance tips.

Assistants for all occasions

The virtual assistants by Sber are about more than finance. Throughout the year, they have helped people watch diverse and captivating content by finding their favorite feature films, music, TV channels and videos online, helped with workouts, education, culture, and games. By addressing the Salute assistants, users can access over 85,000 pieces of content via Okko, a VoD service. According to statistical data about movies, the largest number of users asked the assistants to put on A Dog Named Palma (22.3 thousand people), and the longest viewing time was registered for the animated series Masha and the Bear (a total of 2,784 days). By the way, the Layer function is available in more than 30,000 videos that the assistants can launch. It uses computer vision to identify actors, objects and locations. Athena, Joy and Sber also help to stay on top of what is happening – over the year, they have aired over 67,000 news stories.

Yagoda-malinka by Khabib has emerged as the most popular song the assistants put on. Moreover, in 2021 the assistants have learnt to identify the tune they hear, its author and name. This function has been used the most on My way by Cassette.

The assistants help with routine. For example, order groceries and other goods to be delivered to your home. At the very start, the assistants were able to place orders for 16 products at the Samokat online store. By the way, more than 300 kg of popcorn has been eaten over the year. With the SberMarket catalog engaged, the list of items has increased to 815,000 goods, which can be ordered in 150 cities throughout the country. According to the survey results, milk and bread are the most popular groceries ordered through the Salute assistants (found in 17% of orders).

Over the 12 months, the geographic coverage of the virtual assistants’ concierge service has increased from 4 to 53 regions. The salute assistants will help arrange table reservations, make an appointment at a beauty salon or with a doctor. Also, the virtual assistants have made friends with the robot Max. With his help, they can advise users on government services. The most popular request on the portal (72% of requests) is for a page with the vaccination certificate, previous COVID-19 cases or PCR tests.

For adults and children

The knowledge base of the virtual assistants has also expanded significantly over the year – they can tell users about cinema, music, geography, history, chemistry, literature and many other topics in a confident way. Every day, the assistants answer about 10,000 factual questions daily, and the most frequently asked one is, “Why is the sun so hot?”

The Salute assistants are loved by adults, as well as children. The development team has tried to create the assistants in such a way that the pastime kids spend with them is quality time that is also pleasant. To this end, for example, an interactive encyclopedia has been launched with thousands of answers verified by experts to a variety of questions about the world around us. Dozens of children's applications are now available for the Salute assistants, including AR apps. For children to safely spend time with the virtual assistants, a special child mode has been introduced that blocks 18+ content and unauthorized payments.