Personal technology has always been inspired by fiction. For instance, the world got its first glimpse of the mobile phone in the popular TV series Star Trek. Now, taking a cue from Iron Man, two young Indian technologists want to play Tony Stark and ask their computer to do stuff for them. To make things easy, their intelligent assistant is also called Jarvis after Stark’s virtual butler.
Delhi-based Chirag Dewan and Jaipur’s Himanshu Vaishnav, both computer science students in their early twenties, think their idea of artificial intelligence can change computing for ever. While start-ups the world over are working on solutions that make input methods for computing more natural, Jarvis Corp is working on an entire operating system that is fully automated and learns as it goes. Of course, it will interact with the user with the help of voice and gestures along with traditional input methods.
“From the origin of operating systems, everyone has been following the same thing. All of them have the same internal structure with a similar skin and flesh. With each new version of an operating system we are just seeing a new set of features being added to this legacy,” says Dewan, on a Skype call from the US. He says Jarvis is a totally redesigned OS. “We are not changing the paradigm, but we will change user experience for sure.”
At the core of Jarvis is artificial intelligence, which the duo think can be included in the system as a component. “So, the next time it performs even better. With the inclusion of unconventional inputs as the standard, you will communicate with the system as if it is an individual,” adds Vaishnav.
Now you know that it is called Jarvis. But if you thought this would be an ideal solution for a mobile operating system, where users are already using voice and gestures for input, you are mistaken. Jarvis Corp, strangely does not want to tackle what for everyone is the fastest growing computing segment. They want to start with the traditional desktops and maybe other connected devices and home automation. But not smartphones. That would be too easy.
“We are a start-up and would like to see how it works before scaling up,” adds Dewan, who is the CFO of the company which now has 10 people working on the project in multiple countries. The two, who met on the Internet due to their shared passion for artificial intelligence, scouted for like-minded talent by launching a website seeking applications. They got 3,000 bios, of which they have roped in eight so far.
But don’t expect Jarvis to be running your computer, or your lives, in the near future. The company has set a deadline of 18 months from the time they get the first level of funding to come out with the first version. During this period they plan to make the SDK available to developers so that they can make applications to run on the new OS.
Where you will run Jarvis seems to be the question that might illicit no answers soon. The company wants to create its own hardware for the OS. It could be a smartwatch or a desktop, but that is not going to be an easy task, especially since the two at the top are adamant on doing everything on their own. “We are not that keen to talk to the big players. We are not doing what they are doing, they are working on methods,” says Vaishnav, the CTO.
They also have no idea of starting with apps or programmes for people to see what they are up to. “If we come up in parts, it defeats the purpose of what we are trying to do. Our main objective is to give the user a companion so that he does not think he is using a machine,” explains Vaishnav.
The company declined a $2 million angel investment. “Samsung approached us to make a mobile version first, but we declined that too as we didn’t want to lose focus on what we are planning to do. I know it sounds stupid that a startup is declining offers, but we would like to choose partners carefully,” says Dewan. They duo are meeting other investors and VCs too. But it remains to be seen if any of the investors will impress them.
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