Posted By Simon Montford on Feb 25, 2016
Scottish tech startup Nautilus Beam Ltd (based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom) came second last night in the prestigious TechCrunch Pitch-Off that took place during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Co-founders Dr Tim Willis and Simon Montford pitched their smartwatch text app Tusi to a crowded room of tech startup entrepreneurs, and a panel of investors. In addition to winning tickets to TechCrunchDisrupt New York in May, the founders also won a 4G-enabled Panasonic Nubo camera. Immediately after their successful pitch, the company released a public beta of Tusi for Google Wear devices, which is available to download for free from Google Play.
Over 100bn messages are sent daily via apps such as WhatSapp, SMS and others! That's a lot of time wasted, as responding to a text message often involves dragging your phone out of your bag or pocket, then unlocking it, possibly dropping it, then putting it back again. Smartwatches enable the wearer to instantly respond, however, the only current method is via speech recognition. This can be problematic as background noise can cause errors while converting speech into text, speaking aloud makes many people feel awkward, and confidentiality isn't possible when speaking in public. It also causes disturbance to others, and let's face it - speaking to your wrist makes you look kinda silly.
There are touchscreen text input alternatives available, but they work by cramming a QWERTY keyboard onto a tiny screen, which is impossible to operate on a circular device, or require the user to learn a complicated set of swipes. Tusi by Nautilus Beam is an elegant, patent-pending way of typing quickly and easily on a smartwatch that combines a novel User Interface and state-of-the-art word prediction, autocorrection and abbreviation expansion technology using advanced artificial intelligence algorithms.
Although Tusi is an early-stage startup, it has over 20 years of research in AI and Natural Language behind it as the product's back-end is powered by Flexpansion Pro (www.flexpansion.com), which is available to download exclusively for android smartphones; an iOS version is in the pipeline. The underlying prediction has had 70,000 downloads on word-of-mouth, and has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Google Play.
The company plans to license their software to smartwatch OEMs for use in messaging, searches, navigation, entering passwords and other activities, however as from yesterday, a consumer beta version of Tusi is available to download from Google Play.
The team of 8 has 3 PhDs, 2 MBAs and 6 MScs, and the company's advisors include industry veterans who were previously involved with SwiftKey (sold for $250m) and T9 ($265m), plus support from Edinburgh and Dundee Universities. Dr Willis, who developed the underlying word prediction technology that powers Tusi, is currently a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellow.
For those that are cynical about texting via a wearable device with such a small screen, don't forget people thought the same about mobiles as back then phones were used exclusively for voice conversations, but T9 has ended up being installed on over 2.5bn devices!
Full Disclosure: I am a co-founder of Nautilus Beam Ltd. The company is currently seeking investment and partners, and we are particularly interested in speaking to smartwatch OEMs, so please contact us via the web form, or give us a call: +44 (0) 7763264313.
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