The Rise of the Virtual Personal Assistant


Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla of the Calgary Herald recently wrote, “Apple’s Siri intelligent personal assistant has been around for nearly four years and standard on iOS devices for three years. The peppy and often humorous artificial intelligence has evolved in terms of features and the number of services it can access. Siri is also getting some stiff competition from Google Now, which along with answering user-initiated queries like Siri, it also passively delivers information to the user by way of visual flash cards… Named after a character in Microsoft’s popular Halo video game franchise, the Cortana personal assistant is expected to come to Windows Phone devices, Xbox and possibly tablets in April… A recent leak with details and screenshots of BlackBerrys upcoming BB 10.3 operating system, reveals that the company formerly known as RIM has been working on an Intelligent Assistant feature to rival Siri and Google Now.” Read more

Semantic Technology Can Make Our Phones Even Smarter

Google Hummingbird

Ron Callari of InventorSpot recently wrote, “In the foreseeable future, search on smartphones will allow for intuitive logic not just text-matching based on keywords. But what will our smartphones offer in the Web 3.0 world of Semantic Technology, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things? Semantic search is already being addressed by the major search engines and social networks to understand the intent of the user. All the major players are competing for dominance of semantic computing because it’s been identified as the solution to the demanding needs of big data.” Read more

Making Your Content Work for You in a Mobile World


Barbara Starr of Search Engine Land recently wrote, “In 2013, mobile traffic in the US almost doubled. Cyber Monday of 2013 was the year that cyber Monday went mobile. And, according to Gartner, Q2 of 2013 was the first time that sales of smartphones surpassed sales of feature phones, with the former accounting for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales worldwide. That last fact in particular shows the unlocked potential of the mobile web. The mobile web is on fire, and a mobile content strategy is a must for 2014. Evan Britton, CEO of, kicked off the IEEE International Symposium on Multimedia conference with a very engaging keynote entitled ‘Succeeding with content in a mobile world.’ ” Read more

Nara Delivers Neural Networking For All

rsz_naramalayNara is officially on its way from being solely a consumer-lifestyle brand – with its neural networking technology helping users find dining and hotel experiences that match their tastes – to also being the power behind other companies’ recommendation and curation offerings. This summer it made a deal with Singapore Communications’ Singtel Digital Life Division to use its technology to help their users hone in on personalized eating options, and today that online food and dining guide, HungryGoWhereMalysia, goes live.

But Singtel won’t be the only outside party to plug into Nara’s backbone, as the company today also is announcing that it is licensing its capabilities to other parties interested in leveraging them. “An enterprise can plug into our neural network in the cloud through our API,” says CEO Tom Copeman, accessing its smarts for analyzing and then personalizing tons of data from anywhere on the web, tailored to the type of service they’d like to offer.

HungryGoWhereMalaysia, for example, is much like Nara for personalized restaurant discovery here in the states, except culturally branded to their markets; local consumers will get tailored list of dining recommendations from over 35,000 restaurants throughout the country, and as the service gets to know them better, suggestions will be more finely honed to match their Digital DNA profiles. “We believe we’re the first in computer science to receive third-party data from outside sources through our API into our neural network, to make the calculations and comparisons, and send back down a more organized, personalized and targeted selections based on individual preferences.”

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SwiftKey Raises $4.6M for a Smarter Mobile Keyboard

Karsten Strauss of Forbes reports, “Your phone or tablet’s keyboard may seem simple to you but to Ben Medlock and Jon Reynolds it’s a universe of mathematics and algorithms. Their company, SwiftKey, has spent the past five years pushing to streamline the texting process using a special typing technology that some say is downright creepy in its ability to figure out what word you’ll type next. With 15 million downloads since 2010 – 3 million for the $3.99 pricetag –  SwiftKey’s been the bestselling productivity app on Google Play for over a year and topped the download charts in 57 countries. This spring the company inked a multi-year licensing deal with Samsung to power keyboards on 100 million of the mobile giant’s phones by year’s end (including the Galaxy S4) and just closed a $17.6 million series B this July, led by Index Ventures.” Read more

RantNetwork and LinguaSys Sign Mobile Application Distribution Agreement

Bloomsburg, PA (PRWEB) August 07, 2013 — RantNetwork, developers of translation applications for SmartPhones and LinguaSys, the international provider of human language technologies producing highly customized multilingual text analytics and natural language processing software, today announced the signing of an exclusive distribution agreement for a customized version of RantNetwork’s OPI Translate Mobile phone translation and interpretation application. Read more

Telco Giant Takes Another Semantic Step

Starting today, if you’re a customer of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. in Malaysia, you’re going to be able to expand your notions of a more personalized web experience.

The company’s SingTel Digital Life Division has partnered with Nara to integrate its proprietary cloud-based neural network technology into its products. Nara today is best known for providing personalized restaurant recommendations: Its “digital DNA” algorithm adds up the sum of what it learns of what each person likes and doesn’t like regarding dining venues in order to serve up restaurant choices (see our story here).

Personalized experiences for SingTel customers will start at the restaurant level, too, with the Malaysia rollout followed by the debut of these services in Australia and Singapore. Nara always has said that its technology can expand beyond the restaurant domain, however, and a spokesperson for the company says such plans are still in the works, though she can’t provide a more definitive timeline.

The deal is not the first semantic matchup for SingTel, south-east Asia’s largest telecom operator.

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Knight Foundation Funds Internet Archive to the Tune of $1M

Roger Macdonald and Brewster Kahle of the Knight Foundation recently wrote, “We are seeing more and more public benefits arising from applying digital search and analysis to news from our most pervasive and persuasive medium— television. That’s why, we are thrilled to announce that the Internet Archive, one of the world’s largest public digital libraries, is expanding our television news research library to make readily available hundreds of thousands of hours of U.S. television news programs for users to search, quote and borrow. The expansion plan is being supported by $1 million in funding from Knight Foundation. With this support, we will grow our TV News Search & Borrow service, which currently includes more than 400,000 broadcasts dating back to June 2009, to add hundreds of thousands of new broadcasts.” Read more

Ontology Systems Helps Companies In Search of Data Agility

The Semantic Web Blog earlier this month covered the news that Ontology Systems is updating its Ontology semantic search platform to Version 4.0, which was previewed last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Following that, we had an opportunity to catch up with CTO and co-founder Leo Zancani to learn more about the upcoming version of the platform that features new search capabilities under the Project Rothko code name banner, as well as the just-released Version 3.7, and how the telco and financial sectors its technology is focused on can leverage it.

The company’s Ontology platform connects its Ontology Intelligence 360 and Ontology Integrity Manager solutions. The former builds dependency models of business entities by looking at data in existing enterprise systems, and the latter is a data integrity solution that measures and monitors in an ongoing way the data alignment among various different systems that talk about the same thing. Those two products, Zancani explains, “depend on quite finely modeled data, so there are quite strict semantic models inside them. Data that is taken from existing systems populates those strict models, and customers are interested in then using the data in those models to drive business processes,” he says. Due in Version 4.0 that should debut in April, “Rothko adds the capability on the side that says, that’s great, but there also is value in the data you don’t want to or need to or can’t afford to model right now, and you can access that with a much more direct search capability.”

What’s the call for this two-tiered search approach in the verticals Ontology Systems is focused on? Take the telco sector, where the company founders have a long history. The industry, says Zancani, is in crisis now, as vendors like Apple and Google eat its lunch, and as the fallout from major consolidation among telco players makes traditional data integration economically untenable.

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In a World of Devices, the User is Central

Roger Kay of Forbes recently opined that the world is becoming more and more user-centric. He explains, “User-centric computing is a theme we can expect to hear articulated in many ways next week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The simple view of the shift from device-centric to user-centric computing goes like this: when all we had was one device — a PC, first to do our work and later to connect to the Internet — we adapted to the device.  We learned how to wrestle it into more or less obeying our will.  We became skilled at the arcane keystrokes of DOS commands and Lotus 1-2-3 in order to do productive work.  We went to the machine.” Read more