Expect Labs has been on a bit of a tear lately — within the past six months the San Francisco-based startup showed off its fan-favorite app at Disrupt SF 2012, scored itself $2.4 million in funding from some big names, and inked a deal with the voice recognition mavens at Nuance. Now Expect Labs has tapped big data startup Factual Inc. and its sizable store of location data in a bid to make its vaunted Anticipatory Computing Engine even smarter.
Here’s a quick primer on Factual, in case you’re not quite up to speed. The brainchild of founder Gil Ebaz, Factual first hit the scene back in 2007 as a place for users to share data of all sorts. No really — some of the company’s earliest examples included crowdsourced data on U.S. prisoners on death row and American Idol finalists. Eventually, Factual shifted to focus more on certain subsets of data like local businesses and regional points of interest and made it all available to developers by way of an API. Oh, and they locked up a $25 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Index along the way — not too shabby.
And how exactly does this fit in with Expect Lab’s oeuvre? Well, the Anticipatory Computing Engine is all about analyzing ongoing conversations and preemptively offering up information it thinks is relevant to what’s going on (as seen in the demo of the team’s consumer-facing MindMeld iPad app below). Currently, Factual plays home to data on “65 million local businesses and points of interest in 50 countries,” a huge sum of information for the team’s ACE to serve up as it listens in on conversations in progress.
We’ve already begun to see a shift towards more context-sensitive computing experiences, especially where mobile devices are involved. Google Now is perhaps the most prevalent as its baked directly into newer versions of Android and chews on a user’s calendar, travel preferences, and search history to offer up relevant notifications right when they’re needed. Meanwhile, apps like Grokr for iOS (which also happens to lean on Factual’s data) take that concept and made it more passive and predictive — not entirely unlike Expect Labs’ approach actually.
Sadly, the MindMeld iPad app that was meant to be Expect Labs’ first big, publicly available demonstration of the anticipatory computing engine in action is still being worked on. The company originally aimed to push the app out the door shortly after its turn on our Disrupt SF 2012 stage, but tremendous positive response prompted the team to apply a few more coats of polish before releasing it into the wild. Since then the startup has made appearances at CES (where MindMeld was fondly received once again), but there’s still no hard release date — company representatives have said it’s coming “really soon.”