As is being widely reported Google has bought startup Clever Sense, which earlier this year launched the local-mobile recommendations app Alfred. Alfred is like “Pandora for the real world” and was dedicated to creating a comprehensive “interest graph.” Clever Sense assigns or maps physical places to one another based on styles, characteristics and attributes in the same way that Pandora does for music. However this process is all done by “artificial intelligence.”
Here’s how Clever Sense itself described the functionality behind Alfred:
The Extraction Engine built into the Clever Sense Platform curates large amounts of unstructured crawled data by leveraging natural language processing, statistical machine learning, and data mining algorithms.
As it reads through the data, the Extraction Engine learns meaningful concepts that are descriptive of physical items in the real world. These concepts constitute the foundation of the Clever Sense Interest Graph. The engine further leverages social interactions like check-ins, likes, and ratings to enrich the Interest Graph. It calculates similarities via graph-based algorithms using these social interactions.
Before the launch of Alfred earlier this year I spoke at some length with CEO Babak Pahlava. It’s not clear how much traction the app itself had prior to the acquisition. The local space is pretty noisy and my guess is that Alfred was struggling to get attention; it had recently been redesigned.
The technology that Google is getting from Clever Sense (and the people) will greatly enhance its local recommendations capabilities, which are fairly embryonic. Google clearly sees personalized local recommendations as an important part of its local product(s) going forward. Google+ may also figuring increasingly into this project as well.
There’s a way that Clever Sense may also become part of Google’s answer to Siri, which is a natural language understanding technology (rather than a pure voice search tool). This probably isn’t the primary motivation but perhaps be one of the “top three.”
The video below describes Clever Sense more (the app was called Seymour then):
Our past story, Clever Sense: A Mobile Search Engine That’s Like “Pandora For The Real World”, also covers it more.