Kiha Raises $20 Million From Paul Allen To Build A Mobile Assistant

Seattle-based Kiha Software, which has raised $20 million from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen, launched Aro Mobile, a product in beta for Android devices that it supposed to make your phone smarter, and link together email, SMS, calendar and contacts to make your phone into a virtual assistant.

Android users can download the Aro software, which is package of multiple applications that are duplicates of functions already on the phone, such as browsing, searching, messaging and contacts.

To get it working, users will have to download the apps, sign up for the beta (from the PC), and then answer questions to a survey. Once all that is done, it will apparently work like this: When text messages and e-mails come in, Aro uses semantics and natural language processing to analyze them and make suggestions for what a user may need to do with them, reports the NYTimes, which interviewed Kiha’s CEO Jon Lazarus, a former Windows Mobile executive at Microsoft.

The software is designed to recognize that an email coming in is suggesting dinner plans for that evening, and highlights information, like the name of the restaurant, other attendees and the time of the event, and then offers the user the ability to add it to the calendar, get directions, or to contact others on the invitation. “The way we use our mobile devices has changed dramatically over the last few years,” Lazarus said. “There is an opportunity for a software design that thinks about mobility and makes using mobile phones much easier.”

The three-year-old company eventually hopes to get its software on the iPhone, or pre-installed on devices. Hopefully, the company is not too late. Three years ago, we were struggling to navigate layers of menus on Windows phones, but now there’s the iPhone, which is based on the principles of simplicity, and Android that notifies and bubbles up a lot of information to the surface. However, no phone today is smart enough to act as a virtual assistant.