Types of Conversational AI

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Types of Conversational AI

Conversational AI is a type of artificial intelligence, referring to the technologies that enable computers and programs to understand, process, interact with, and generate human language, mimicking a human conversation. That said, there are various types of conversational AI, and each one of them has specified purposes, unique functionality, and a distinct scope of work.

Continue reading this article to learn more about the types of conversational AI, including chatbots, virtual assistants, voice assistants, customer service chatbots, and multimodal conversational AI. But before exploring the types, here is a general overview of what conversational AI is and how it works.

Conversational AI: A Brief Overview

As mentioned above, conversational AI understands human language and interacts with it by generating appropriate responses, creating a friendly and intuitive experience for the user. Different types of conversational AI operate differently; however, most of them use the following AI technologies to operate:

1. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is a computer’s or program’s ability to understand human language, which the Natural Language system processes through two main stages: the preprocessing stage and the algorithm stage. In the first phase, text data is prepared and “cleaned” for machines, so they can analyse it. This stage makes data workable and manageable for the algorithm, which in turn is developed to process data on a rule basis or a machine-learning basis.

2. Speech Recognition

Speech recognition is incorporated in types of conversational AI that work with spoken language, and it functions to convert and translate spoken words into written text. It differs from voice recognition, as the latter aims to identify the voice of the individual user.

3. Machine Learning

A branch of AI that utilises data and algorithms to imitate the learning processes of humans. It improves the understanding capabilities of programs and computers in any context. In other words, machine learning enables programs to learn from experience, using certain methods to learn from data without needing predetermined equations or models.

Below are some of the types of conversational AI.


Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate human conversations with users, using natural language (human language). These conversations are text-based, and they function to fulfil certain tasks, provide specific information, and answer questions. Chatbots are used in various websites, messaging platforms, and mobile apps, offering support and information.

Chatbots give real-time answers and responses for an improved user experience, and they are rule-based. Meaning that they operate depending on a system of predetermined rules, which are explicit and conditional. However, this limits the chatbots’ learning capacity, which is transcended in virtual assistants.

Customer Service Chatbots

Different chatbots work in different contexts. That said, not every chatbot is necessarily a customer service chatbot. Even though this type of conversational AI has its limitations as mentioned above, businesses are increasingly incorporating customer service chatbots into their websites to offer support, answer questions, guide the user, enhance their experience, and resolve issues.

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants are similar to chatbots, but they still have their differences. While chatbots answer questions and provide information, virtual assistants do the same in addition to other tasks requiring interactions with other applications. Moreover, virtual assistants schedule appointments, make phone calls, manage emails and smart systems, set reminders, send messages, and do many other tasks.

Virtual assistants utilise natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to respond to user requests and better personalise their experience with time. Some notable examples of virtual assistants are Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.

Voice Assistants

Types of conversational AI have their subtypes. As such, voice assistants are a subtype of virtual assistants, and they are designed to solely respond to voice commands, hence their name. Voice assistants use voice recognition and natural language processing (NLP) to understand natural language and respond to it, eliminating the need for manual input from the user’s end.

Multimodal Conversational AI

Artificial intelligence systems can be divided into two types based on their input/output number of modalities. A single modality system can understand only one type of communication mode (modality) such as text or voice. Some chatbots, for example, are designed to understand written language only, while voice assistants can only engage with and respond to spoken language. On the other hand, multimodal conversational AI can understand and respond to multiple modes of communication, including text, voice, and images.

As such, this type of conversational AI is complex, sophisticated, and more “intelligent” than a single modal system. This results in a more intuitive, natural, and friendly user experience. A multimodal conversational AI system can understand, analyse, and respond to data from various sources, so a virtual assistant using this modal can respond to text and voice commands in addition to analysing images for better responses.

Conversational AI With EDC

EDC, operating as a semi-government entity under Emirates Post Group, provides digital transformation services and solutions to businesses and organisations in the Middle East. EDC aims to lead your business’ digital transformation journey, so it becomes a leader in its niche. From digital trust solutions and intelligent document processing to customer experience management and conversational AI, EDC offers all sought-after digitalisation services for companies.

Discover EDC’s conversational AI solutions for a better customer experience, increased customer acquisition and revenue, reduced overall costs, intelligent automation, and more.