San Francisco-based Expect Labs, which previously positioned itself as a kind of “Google Now in a Box” or “Siri in a Box” for third-party developers, has changed its name to MindMeld. The company is also launching a second generation of its technology, which it now describes as a “platform for creating large-scale language-understanding and question-answering capabilities on apps and devices for any custom content domain.”
MindMeld CEO Tim Tuttle says the technology allows publishers to bring the power of virtual assistants and voice interfaces like Cortana, Google Now, Siri or Amazon Echo to their content, data and applications. One partnership being announced (but not yet live) is Spotify. Tuttle also told me that MindMeld is working with a large cable operator and government agencies.
What MindMeld has developed and brought to market is something like a 2.0 version of the old FAST Search & Transfer, which enabled better site search and content indexing. (FAST was acquired by Microsoft in 2008.) Beyond this, MindMeld offers sophisticated natural language understanding, voice search and machine learning.
MindMeld commissioned research in October of 1,800 adult smartphone users in the US. The company found that there has been a big uptick in voice assistant and voice search usage, with 60 percent saying that they had started using these tools in the past 12 months.
Siri was the most widely adopted voice assistant, used by 40 percent of survey respondents versus Google’s 26 percent. Cortana was used by six percent, which is larger than Windows Phone’s market share in the US. And 37 percent said they hadn’t tried voice assistants.
Just over half of users expressed degrees of positive satisfaction with voice assistants, while 38 percent were neutral. Only 12 percent of users were dissatisfied.
As further evidence of the growth of voice search, Tuttle also cited numbers previously released by Apple and Google. I was unable to find the data directly, but Tuttle said that Apple disclosed at WWDC that more than one billion queries per week were happening through Siri. Similarly, Google apparently reported at I/O that up to 10 percent of search query volume is now initiated by voice.
Voice search and virtual assistant usage is expected to growth over time, according to projections from comScore that argue up to 50 percent of search may be driven by voice in 2020.
MindMeld has received investments from Google, Samsung and Intel. In the video below, there’s an impressive head-to-head demo of MindMeld vs. Siri on Apple TV using the same queries.
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