Stealth Company's website has proved vague at best over the past few months, for example tantalising with allusions to underpinning technology;
"We are not building our company on an idea and a prayer, but rather on a deep, foundational technology that leverages experience from many years and hundreds of millions of dollars of research and development."
Clearly manufacturers of a next-generation bottle opener, you might think, were it not for the appearance of co-Founder and CTO Tom Gruber on the programme of events such as the Semantic Technology Conference.
Overnight we learned more about the team and the company's finances and timetable.
Siri has been spun out from SRI International, which holds an undisclosed stake in return for the contribution of intellectual property and technology. Siri has closed a Series A round of $8.5 million, led by Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures, which sees Shawn Carolan of Menlo and Gary Morgenthaler of Morgenthaler join SRI's Norman Winarsky and Siri CEO Kittlaus on the Board.
The company is currently alpha testing a product, with a beta version expected 'during the first half of 2009.'
That's all very well, but what is Siri building? Specifically, it's hard to be sure. In general terms, though, background information on the CALO project that seems so central to what Siri are doing (CALO stands for 'Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes,' which drops pretty big hints) matches up with things Gruber has said in the past about the importance of the 'consumer Internet' to suggest some sort of semantically-enhanced software agent. The CALO site, for example, explains;
"The goal of the project is to create cognitive software systems, that is, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise.
The software, which learns by interacting with and being advised by its users, will handle a broad range of interrelated decision-making tasks that have in the past been resistant to automation. A CALO will have the capability to engage in and lead routine tasks, and to assist when the unexpected happens. To focus the research on real problems and ensure the software meets requirements such as privacy, security, and trust, the CALO project researchers themselves are using the technology during its development."
The smart software assistant envisioned in that 2001 Scientific American article, and since much-maligned? Or something else?
And how will it insert itself into the multi-site, multi-environment consumer Web of 2009? Only time - and that beta programme - will tell.