Anticipatory computing startup Expect Labs released an API Wednesday to help developers build smarter contextual-based search and content discovery.
"It's a cloud-based service and a set of tools that a developer can use to build applications as advanced a Google Now-style intelligent assistant or something like the MindMeld app," founder and CEO Tim Tuttle told Fast Company. "The technology to index all this data to understand it is complex enough that it's beyond reach for companies unless they have a team of machine-learning experts, which most companies don't. It's why Samsung, Google, Telefonica, and Intel invested in us."
In December, the company showed off its first app, MindMeld, a voice-activated search engine to illustrate the potential of anticipatory computing where devices surface information before a user is able to search for it. The potential is a connected smart system that intuitively presents information by eavesdropping on what users are saying—for example, if a person complains about the room being cold, the thermostat can automatically adjust the dial—but the first version of the app wasn't quite as seamless as the company's vision, watered down because of privacy concerns.
Like the app, the API won't allow apps to listen in on conversations without users' permissions. Though Tuttle says the company already has customers, some of whom include its investors, he couldn't discuss how the API was being used yet, only pointing to broad examples, such as Google Now-style cards and contextual (not keyword-based) search.