Virtual assistant on monitor screen
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Could virtual assistants be made to understand us better?

13 February 2014 Last updated at 00:15 GMT

Can virtual assistants like Siri or Google Now be improved so they are more like the kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI) seen in the movies?

Microsoft does not yet have a virtual assistant on its Windows Phone platform, but the company is experimenting with AI in lifts and reception desks at its headquarters.

Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft's research unit, believes part of the solution involves allowing computers to look beyond questions posed.

Mr Horvitz already uses a virtual assistant, nicknamed The Assistant.

Video courtesy of Microsoft Research