IKEA: online assistant

I’ve recently been having a lot of trouble with my neck, so I’m in the market for a chair that will better support my neck and head.

One of the places I’m looking is IKEA, and I was pleasantly surprised to see “Anna,” IKEA’s online assistant. You ask Anna questions; she tells you where to find what you need.

The software that powers Anna is almost certainly from Oddcast, a company I’ve used before to make little talking heads on some kid-focused websites. To be honest, though, I find these sorts of things more gimmicky than useful.

Everything’s OK when the question is relatively simple. For instance, I said:

I need a chair with a tall back to support my neck.

Anna answers with “Please have a look at the chairs,” and opens a new browser window with IKEAs chairs. Unfortunately, they’re dining room chairs, not easy chairs or arm chairs. Trying again:

Do you have any easy chairs?

Anna says “Here you will find the Other Armchairs Subcategory,” which sounds fairly cold, but she opens up yet another new browser window with, amazingly, the “other armchairs subcategory.”

I decide to have some fun with her:

Where is heaven?

Anna’s response:

I can’t really say, to be honest. Maybe you should consult a map.

Making a mental note to consult the next map that I see, I continue and ask Anna another question:

asdfad sdad fads fsdafasd adsf adsfasd

Anna is not impressed:

It’s great that you’re so linguistically impressive, but please talk to me in English.

Hrm, sounds like Anna has detected that all the keystrokes in that question were from the left side home keys, which seems to make her suspicious that I’m not really asking a question at all.

I try a little harder to fool her:

adfdas kj lk;jwe oiuweoriu m,.cxmv., cxz

Anna drops the snarky attitude and admits defeat:

I’m sure what you said made perfect sense, but I don’t understand every little thing. Perhaps you could rephrase your question or comment and I’ll be able to give you a better answer.

Once again I input nonsense, and get a different answer:

Please express your statement in a different way; I am not sure that I understood it. Thank you.

No, not at all. It was nothing. Rather, thank you for the 5 minutes of fun!

And, umm, about the chairs? Good old-fashioned hunting and pecking on the page brought me to this arm chair page, from which I’ve concluded that IKEA probably doesn’t have something that fits my personal style and needs.

[tags] IKEA, oddcast, talking head, webdesign [/tags]

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I tried to ask Anna out on a date.

    Me: hi would you go out on a date with me?
    Anna: I’m not real. I’m an Online Assistant designed to help you with your queries about IKEA, so I can’t go out. But thanks…

    Me: C’mon! do you like chocolate, I want to bring you some chocolate.
    Anna: The best thing to do is to get something to eat. In every IKEA store you can get a delicious snack in our restaurant.

    Me: Was that a yes?
    Anna: You’re trying to ask me a question, but I need more than that to give you a proper answer. Please try again.

    Me: ahhhh …. women
    Anna: Well, if it’s no, its no. I am still here to answer your questions.

  • I asked a whole bunch of questions and made statements with funny results. For example: You’re pretty, nice shirt, who programmed you, you suck, Are you married, do you have children, thank you and have a good night, bye. Was entertaining at the least.