Yesterday, Facebook announced the winners for their Bots for Messenger Challenge which was launched earlier this year in February. The competition aimed to showcase bot innovations from 64 countries in Middle East and Africa. Each participant was to create a bot in one of the following categories gaming and entertainment; productivity and utility; and social good.
As the competition proceeded, 34 bot parties were held across Africa including here in Harare. The aim of these events were to teach people how to make bots and share some tips and tricks. From these bot parties, people then created their bots which were entered in the competition.
From the 1000+ submissions that they received, Facebook then selected 60 finalists. Two Zimbabwean made bots made it to the finals from the 60 finalists in Africa. One was Zimbabwe: Sphinx The Game made by Kuzivakwashe Muvezwa which was submitted into the gaming and entertainment category. The other one was Zimbabwe: PopTime Bot – Movie Companion made by Kudzai Chasinda which submitted into the productivity and utility category.
The final bots were judged based on:
- Technical Quality – How well does the Bot use the Messenger platform features? [35%]
- Non-Technical Quality – What is the degree of excellence of the Bot, taking into account the Bot’s distinctive attributes and characteristics (except for the technical aspects)? [35%]
- User Experience – How useable is the Bot for the intended audience, including how well the conversation flows? [30%]
Facebook reports that the judges had a difficult time to select the 6 winners and 6 runner ups for the competition as it was a tough competition due to the number of high quality bots that were submitted. As we all know, winners have to be chosen in the end and these are the bots that were selected as the most innovative ones in each of the three categories.
Gaming and Entertainment
Productivity and Utility
Unfortunately, the two Zimbabwean bots didn’t make it as winners or runner ups for the two categories they had entered for. Regardless of that, it is a good achievement that they made it that far in the competition. Of the bots that were in the competition, my favorite is LangBot as it helps people learn a language by chatting to a bot.
Even-though Duolingo has already created bots for language learning, they are only accessible on iOS devices which makes it limited, this one is available to anyone regardless of the operating system their device runs on. The bot is still in its early stages so there’s room for improvement but I hope that since the creator won, they will continue to develop it. Otherwise I may have to wait for Duolingo to bring them to Android and finally finish learning French.