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‘MindMeld’ app anticipates people’s needs

A voice calls application called MindMeld to be available this month promises to know what iPad users want before they do.

The application, named for the way the character Spock melded minds with other beings in hit classic science fiction television series “Star Trek,” analyzes conversations in real-time to anticipate speakers’ desires.

“It is the first voice and video calling app for iPad that can actually understand what you say and find relevant information so that you have it at your fingertips,” Expect co-founder Timothy Tuttle told AFP.

“This stuff seems like science fiction but it can happen fairly well today and five to 10 years from now it will be standard in just about every phone call or real-time communication application.”

Calls made using MindMeld are routed through Expect technology that recognizes what people say and finds online information that might be relevant to conversations.

“At any point in a conversation when you hear something interesting you can pull in more information” on the iPad screen, Tuttle said.

“A lot of complex things are taking place on the back end to be able to predict from the last 10 minutes of a conversation what you need in the next ten seconds.”

For example if a friend on a call suggests a new restaurant, MindMeld readies a map and information such as the menu or reviews.

Mentioning a medical treatment could trigger news stories about the treatment, while talk of a vacation could prompt online video of mentioned venues along with insights from Facebook friends.

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Engineers school at venues such as Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology built what the startup called an anticipatory computing engine.

“All of us spent most of our careers making machines more intelligent,” Tuttle said.

“Five or ten years from now computers will be with you; listening and seeing things that will be the input used to get information.”

The trend has gained importance with the lifestyle shift to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices without keyboards for typing queries for online searches, according to Tuttle.

Expect Labs founders Moninder Jheeta and Tuttle met while specializing in extracting meaning from audio, video and other streaming data at Truveo before the company was bought by AOL in 2006.

Expect Labs planned to add group video calling to the application by the end of the year and subsequently open the platform to developers interested in building the technology into other programs.

Tuttle did not disclose the price for the application at launch but said that the goal was to eventually make it available for free and make money from premium features.

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