October 6, 2010
Qwiki is a start-up that launched at TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco at the end of September 2010. The company also took the top prize of $50,000 in the Disrupt competition, which included a number of twenty-seven start-ups. Doug Imbruce, Co-founder, provided a strong proof-of-concept demonstration the software on-stage, impressing the start-up judges.
What Qwiki offers is a new service, called the future of information consumption. The software runs on the web, as well as an application on mobile devices. Data about a wide variety of topics is presented in a visual way that is really enticing.
How does Qwiki work? You search a term, the software pulls all the information and media from the web, and – while displaying related media – it uses a computerized voice to narrate the answer. It actually “talks” to you, telling you all you need to know about a specific term or person. In order to access more Qwikis, users can click on sub-topics. The data revealed is not only from Wikipedia, even social media sites are included when looking for a person, for example. The new way to consume information means melding together text, audio and video in a seamless interface, in order to generate a dynamic movie of the term being searched.
Doug Imbruce, Co-founder and CEO, a young Columbia graduate, produced TV and created educational content before founding Qwiki. He describes himself as a recovering software engineer.Louis Monier, Co-founder and CTO, is a French professional, founder of AltaVista search engine, one of the Fathers of Web search, having also held senior positions at Google and eBay. He was also a researcher at Carnegie-Mellon, Digital Western Research Lab and XEROX P.A.R.C. , the CTO and VP of Engineering for BigVine, the VP of Products for Cuil. He holds a PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science.
Improving the way consumers experience information is Qwiki’s main future goal. The team believes that data should not be presented as a machine-readable list only because it is actually stored by machines. Information technology can be advanced to the point where it acts human, delivering an exquisite experience on whatever device it is used. People are invited to join Qwiki’s private alpha and help test the software to shape the future, improving this groundbreaking application and making more sense of the web.
The difference between Qwiki and traditional rich media content is that the software creates all the answers on the fly, without human intervention, from web sources. Advertisers are provided with targeted media placement, using knowledge of the meta data existing in the contents of each Qwiki. Existing content is thus repackaged and monetized by publishers with rich media CPMs.
Louis Monier stated that they are making significant progress on building a future where data comes alive, remixing information into a quintessentially human format, creating immersive experiences, which is a great challenge. In the near future people will be able to load Qwiki on their mobile devices and iPads to learn about restaurants, attractions or a new colleague, Imbruce said. There are endless possibilities of revealing an interconnected and far-reaching corpus of data provided by this brand-new revolutionary way to engage users with information.
Besides winning the TechCrunch Disrupt Cup, the Silicon Valley start-up has also raised $1,5 million in funding.
You can also participate in testing their unique software by clicking here.