Swiss keyboard startup Typewise has actually bagged a $1 million seed round to build out a typo-busting, ‘privacy-safe’ next word prediction engine created to run totally offline. No cloud connectivity, no information mining danger is the basic idea.
Elon Musk may want to plug into your brain in future. In the meantime they’ve got a smart device keyboard app that’s had around 250,000 downloads– with some 65,000 active users at this moment.
The seed financing breaks down into $700K from more than a lots regional organisation angels; and $340K through the Swiss government through a mechanism (called “ Innosuisse tasks”), akin to a research study grant, which is paying for the startup to use machine learning experts at Zurich’s ETH research university to develop out the core AI.
The group soft introduced a mobile phone keyboard app late in 2015, that includes some extra tweaks (such as an optional honeycomb layout they tout as more efficient; and the ability to modify next word predictions so the keyboard rapidly groks your slang) to get users to begin feeding in information to build out their AI.
Their main focus is on establishing an offline next word prediction engine which might be accredited for usage anywhere users are texting, not just on a mobile phone.
“The objective is to develop a world-leading text forecast engine that runs entirely on-device,” states co-founder David Eberle. “The mobile phone keyboard really is a first usage case. It’s excellent to test and develop our algorithms in a real-life setting with 10s of countless users. The bigger play is to bring word/sentence conclusion to any application that includes text entry, on mobiles or desktop (or in future likewise wearables/VR/Brain-Computer Interfaces).
“Currently it’s basically only Google dealing with this( see Gmail’s vehicle completion function). Applications such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Telegram, and even SAP, Oracle, Salesforce would desire such efficiency boost– and at that level privacy/data security matters a lot. Ultimately we envision that every “human-machine interface” is, a minimum of on the text-input level, powered by Typewise.”
You ‘d be forgiven for believing all this sounds a bit retro, given the earlier boom in mobile phone AI keyboards– such as SwiftKey(now owned by Microsoft ). The creators have actually likewise pressed particular elements of their existing keyboard app– such as the unique honeycomb layout– in the past, going down a crowdfunding path back in 2015, when they were calling the concept Wrio. They reckon it’s now time to go all in– hence relaunching the company as Typewise and shooting to construct a licensing business for offline next word prediction.
“We’ll use the funds to establish advanced text predictions … very first launching it in the keyboard app and then bringing it to the desktop to start building collaborations with relevant software vendors,” says Eberle, noting they’re working on numerous enhancements to the keyboard app and likewise plan to invest in marketing to try to hit 1M active users next year.
“We have more ‘ingenious things’ [incoming] on the UX side as well, e.g. communicating with automobile correction (so the user can easily step in when it does something wrong– in lots of countries users just turn it off on all keyboards since it gets frustrating), gamifying the general typing experience (huge opportunity for kids/teenagers, likewise making them more familiar with what and how they type), etc.”
The competitive landscape around smartphone keyboard tech, mostly controlled by tech giants, has left room for indie plays, is the thinking. Nor is Typewise the only startup believing that method( Fleksy has comparable ambitions, for one). Acquiring traction vs such giants– and over long recognized typing techniques– is the difficult bit. Android maker Google has tilled resource into its Gboard AI keyboard– larding it with features. While, on iOS, Apple’s user interface for switching to a 3rd party keyboard is infamously discouraging and finicky; the opposite of a seamless experience. Plus the native keyboard provides next word prediction baked in– and Apple has plenty of personal privacy credit. Why would a user bother switching is the problem there. Contending for mobile phone users ‘fingers as an indie certainly isn’t easy.
Alternative keyboard designs and input system are constantly a very difficult sell as they disrupt individuals’s muscle memory and hit mobile users hard in their convenience and efficiency zone. Unless the user is client and/or persistent adequate to stick with a frustratingly different experience they’ll quickly ditch for the keyboard devil they understand.( ‘Qwerty ‘is an ancient typewriter design turned typing habit we English speakers simply can’t kick.) Given all that, Typewise’s retooled concentrate on offline next word prediction to do white label b2b licensing makes more sense– presuming they can manage
the core tech. And, again, they’re contending at an information disadvantage on that front vs more recognized tech giant keyboard gamers, even as they argue that’s likewise a market chance.”Google and Microsoft (thanks to the acquisition of SwiftKey) have a strong technology in location and have actually begun to offer text predictions beyond the keyboard; a number of their rivals,
nevertheless, will wish to embed a proprietary( hard to develop )or independent innovation, especially if their value proposition is focused on privacy/confidentiality,”Eberle argues.”Would Telegram want to use Google’s text predictions? Would SAP want that their clients ‘information goes through Microsoft’s prediction algorithms? That’s where we see our right to win: first-rate text forecasts that run on-device(privacy)and are made in Switzerland( independent environment, no security back doors, etc).”Early impressions of Typewise’s next word forecast smarts (gleaned by via checking out its iOS app )are pretty low key (ha!). It’s v1 of the AI– and Eberle talks bullishly of having”world class”
developers designers on it.”The collaboration with ETH just started a couple of weeks ago and hence there are no significant improvements yet visible in the live app,” he informs TechCrunch. “As the collaboration runs till the end of 2021(
with the chance of extension)the large majority of innovation is still to come.”He also informs us Typewise is working with ETH’s Prof. Thomas Hofmann(chair of the Data Analytic Lab, previously at Google), as well as having has two PhDs in NLP/ML and one MSc in ML adding to&the effort.”We get special rights to the [ETH] technology; they don’t hold equity however they get paid by the Swiss government on our behalf, “Eberle also keeps in mind. Typewise states its mobile phone app supports more than 35 languages.
Its next word forecast AI can only handle English, German, French, Italian and Spanish at this point. The startup says more are being added. Article curated by RJ Shara from Source. RJ Shara is a Bay Area Radio Host (Radio Jockey) who talks about the startup ecosystem – entrepreneurs, investments, policies and more on her show The Silicon Dreams. The show streams on Radio Zindagi 1170AM on Mondays from 3.30 PM to 4 PM.