Your mobile phone can do just about anything. Now, your iPhone, with a little help from a robot named Alfred, may finally help you answer questions such as “Where should I eat?” and “What should I do?”
Alfred the robot is a Knight Rider-inspired character who lives inside the just-released iPhone application of the same name from startup Clever Sense. Teach him a little bit about your tastes, and he acts as an omniscient being who recommends — with confidence — nearby bars, restaurants, coffee shops and night clubs that you might like.
“Wherever you go, you need other entities who know you, who know your taste and who can actually provide you with highly curated personalized recommendations, just like a friend would do,” says Clever Sense co-founder Babak Pahlavan.
“What if users had these AI elements, elements that could actually learn about the places that you like for different purposes and then have them do the work for you?,” he adds. This is Alfred, says Pahlavan, which he describes as a Pandora for the real world.
Clever Sense, founded in 2008, spent more than two years building an artificial intelligence engine that can trawl the web for place data, as well as understand and describe places the way humans would. The end result is an interest graph for places that powers Alfred’s brain.
“On average,” Pahlavan says, “for every single place in our system, we have 200 to 400 attributes already discovered, based on how people talk about them.”
For the iPhone user who turns to Alfred to discover a new place to eat, Clever Sense’s artificial intelligence engine almost guarantees several solid suggestions.
During a demonstration of the application, after telling Alfred a few places I already enjoy, he was then able to make spot-on recommendations as to where I should I grab my next drink, coffee, lunch or date night dinner.
Alfred knows the context of your situation, including time of the day and location. He can also tell you what’s good and what you’ll want to avoid — information he gleans from reading through all the available Yelp reviews and plucking out the most pertinent details — at each venue.
“It’s like having a trusted personal robot at your disposal,” Pahlavan says.
Eventually, Alfred will work with your Foursquare checkin history for more fine-tuned place recommendations, as well as work across even more verticals — hotels, spas, wine, hair salons and so forth. Then, Alfred will even start suggesting targeted daily deals, predicting deals that you may actually want.
Mountain View-based Clever Sense, a startup that focuses on combining artificial intelligence and machine learning for its “serendipity engine,” has raised $1.6 million in Angel funding.