Expect Labs, which is a small startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, has a very impressive list of investors. Today the company announced a new funding round, though the figures weren’t disclosed. Investors are the venture or investment arms of Intel, Samsung and Telefonica. Telefonica is the world’s fourth largest telco and owns mobile operator O2 in the UK.
Previous investors included Google, Greylock, Bessemer, IDG Ventures, KPG Ventures, Quest Venture Partners. The company has one product called MindMeld. It’s sort of a (video) chat app but really more of a technology demonstration. Expect Labs calls its technology an “Anticipatory Computing Engine,” which is as awkward a term as “predictive search” — though that equally applies.
Expect Labs and the challenge that CEO Tim Tuttle and his team are working on is building what amounts to a new type of search capability for a dynamic, mobilized world where information is flowing continuously and dynamically to and from users and devices. In layman’s terms Expect Labs is building technology with a wide range of consumer and enterprise applications but which operates a bit like a marriage of Siri and Google Now.
The company has the capacity to pull data from a traditional search index, proprietary databases (e.g., social data) and APIs and combine that with real-time, contextually aware information from the real world (e.g., location, time of day, etc.) to deliver content or “search results” in real time. MindMeld is a kind of persistent-search, intelligent assistant that “listens” to users’ conversations and offers relevant content and search results without any actual “searching” (see video below).
Here’s how Expects Labs describes what it does and its technology:
Founded in 2011, Expect Labs has pioneered the development of technology that enables our computing devices and applications to pay attention continuously and better anticipate the information that we need. Over the past two years, Expect Labs’ team of PhDs and research experts have developed a new class of technologies to understand the meaning of continuous conversations. Based on this understanding, Expect Labs’ platform can model the context of your interactions in real-time, and proactively find information you may want before you need to search for it. As part of this new strategic investment, Expect Labs will begin working to enable new types of context-aware, predictive intelligence in a wide variety of applications and devices.
This is the same type of language surrounding Google Now and it does represent one future of search (or the “intelligent assistant”). In the context of the above it’s not surprising then that Google has invested.
New investor Samsung expects Expect Labs’ technology “to enable new types of intelligent, voice-driven and context aware behavior across a wide range of devices including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.” Telefónica says it “intends to utilize Expect Labs’ technology and expertise to enhance several product lines including next-generation communications applications and advertising initiatives.”
For its part Intel says that Expect Labs’ technology will become a part of “new types of user interfaces driven by voice, touch, and gesture.” the voice recognition part comes from Nuance, which is also the speech recognition provider behind Siri.
This is definitely a company to watch. Right now the company is trying to solve the “signal to noise” problem that it confronts with all the data and inputs that it’s processing. However CEO Tim Tuttle believes he’s well on the way toward doing that.
He describes the company’s methodology and what it’s building as “a new architecture for search.” With how promising it is and how many companies are circling Expect Labs, as investors and would-be users of its technology, it’s likely that there will be an early acquisition (Google, Apple, Samsung?).