Evi arrives in town to go toe-to-toe with Siri

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Microsoft To Ditch “Microsoft Points”? Oh, Please Let It Be True.

When Siri arrived on the iPhone 4S I thought to myself, who else could do this? It would need to be a search engine with natural language processing, but also behave in the manner of artificial intelligence and respond to voice recognition. One company that sprung to mind was True Knowledge. I pinged them. Are you working on a Siri type application, I asked? Interesting question, was their response. And then they went quiet.

Now they can reveal what they’ve been building. Evi is a new iPhone (iTunes link) and Android app in Beta (link) which might just give Apple’s Siri a run for her money. She – we’ll call this Artificial Intelligence a she – returns amazing results when consulted. Given that Siri is just not very good at giving answers which aren’t about the US, Evi might just be the Siri for the rest of the world, especially since Evi wil run on any Andoid or iPhone, and not just the 4S. I’ve seen her in action and Evi is very, very smart.

Based on very deep, patented technology around language and knowledge understanding, the iPhone app couples a licensing of Nuance’s voice recognition technology (the small charge is to cover this license) and True Knowledge’s engine.

Taking speech and turning it into text is tough, so is natural language text and understanding what the user means, as well as their intent. Evi does all three of these together so is often imperfect, but I’m told it’s improving all the time, despite being in Beta.

Evi has an ontology of tens of thousands of classes into which everything that can be talked about falls. She also knows almost a billion ‘facts’ (machine understandable bits of knowledge) and, says True Knowledge, she can infer trillions more when needed.

She also integrates lots of other sources, such as Yelp for local searches, external mobile friendly websites, APIs, traditional search etc.

Yes, Evi can’t do Siri’s trick of adding things to your iPhone Calendar or hook into reminders. However, it probably only a matter of time before it can.

Install Evi on an iPhone 4S and compare it to Evi. Ask “How do I make apple pie?”. Siri is unable to provide a direct answer and so asks whether you want to search the web. Evi provides a list of recipes with web links.

Ask “Who was President when Queen Elizabeth II was born”. Siri is unable to provide an answer and suggests performing a web search. Evi determines who Queen Elizabeth II is, when she was born, the dates when she will have been a teenager and then compares this against which US presidents were in office over that time, delivering the results of both serving US presidents during those years. Not bad huh.

Obviously Evi is a mobile ap right now. But she could be integrated into television, the web, games consoles, you name it.

I’m excited by Evi, and frankly, I think Siri has new competition in town for the boys’ attention…