VMware wants IM clients to hookup with calendars and databases

Patents seek back channel data lookups based on IM content

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Not content with building a chatbot that lets servers tell you what ails them over instant messaging applications, VMware is also seeking a patent to let messaging tools rummage around in your calendar and suck down data from Google.

The newly-published patent application, numbered 20140195621 and titled “Intelligent Chat System” aims to build a chatbot capable of “automatically obtaining, from a data source external with respect to the chat application, additional information based on the monitored content”.

The patent application suggests one example of such a bot at work could see software intervene in a conversation about meeting for lunch by looking up Google and Yelp to find local restaurants and reviews of same, then inserting them into the chat. The patent also mentions looking up chat participants' calendars to see if they are free for lunch.

Customer support is another application on which the patent touches, suggesting that a chat client could link to databases so then when “... a customer is inquiring about a particular product, intelligent chat assistant … can monitor the conversation, observe the product name, and then automatically pull out information associated with the product.”

VMware has also applied for a patent titled “Method and System for Automatic Switching Between Chat Windows”. That application describes a system that monitors chat conversations and then changes windows based on the content being discussed.

Just why VMware is so interested in chat is unknown. It's not hard to imagine that a combination of the three chat-related patents we've stumbled upon could add up to a support chatbot that tells you when a server is sick, dredges up relevant knowledge base articles, spawns them into a window and then sends sysadmins to that window at just the right time.

That sounds like a nice system and maybe one that will give VMware a licensing revenue stream. But is this technology that will advance VMware's mission of automating the data centre? You be the judge. ®

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