Samsung, Intel, Google Ventures and Telefonica are already on board, and now San Francisco startup Expect Labs can count the world’s largest broadband provider outside the U.S. as a backer of its vision of anticipatory computing. Expect Labs, which makes the MindMeld videoconferencing app for the iPad, plans to announce on Monday strategic investment from the U.K.’s Liberty Global as well as IDG Ventures. The investment is a endorsement from a future maker of smart home applications.
Expect Labs’ iPad app is only the beginning of what it envisions for computers that can find data for you even before you ask for it. The app tracks a conversation as it is taking place, analyzing the content in order to pop up relevant information in response to what’s being said. Expect says its platform will power truly personal digital assistants on a variety of devices that are able to fetch information without the user having to do an explicit search for it.
The company’s CEO, Tim Tuttle, wouldn’t disclose how much money Liberty Global and IDG gave, but he said it was more than Expect Labs’ initial seed round of $2.4 million. Including the most recent funding round in May (that he also did not disclose other than to say it was more than the $2.4 million as well), a quick calculation shows it has received a minimum of $7.2 million in venture capital to date, but it’s probably higher than that.
Why does this 12-person startup need all this money? Tuttle told me last week he plans to use it to expand their platform outside the U.S. and the English-speaking world. To be useful on a global scale, he said “we need to support lots of other languages besides English and expand the knowledge base and content coverage of our platform.” In other words, Expect Labs is localizing: when someone is talking about going out to eat in Paris, the platform knows restaurants in Paris; or if the conversation turns to politicians in Tokyo, it knows who they are.
Liberty Global is currently a broadband provider, but plans to use Expect Labs’ platform to create smart assistant apps for the home, while IDG foresees its technology being used during live events and conferences.