Augment’s personal AI assistant could help you keep track of a scattered digital life • TechCrunch


If you’re having trouble keeping track of your work and personal life because it’s spread across 20+ different apps and productivity suites to the point that you have a meeting in 5 minutes that you don’t even remember having, then You are not alone. We can’t all have a PA to keep track of us, but Augment hopes that PAI, if you will, may be the next best thing, learning from every digital interaction you have and providing the information you need before you ask for it it.

“Wait a minute,” I hear you typing. “Didn’t you write this story about Atlas Informatics five years ago?” Why yes, I did – what a wonderful memory you have. But Atlas sank, and founder (and Napster co-founder) Jordan Ritter disappeared from my radar after that, until a few weeks ago, when Augment reached out to talk about something A decidedly more modern approach when it comes to thinking of the next generation.

The underlying philosophy of Atlas is to “remember everything you see”, making your entire online world searchable locally, from appointments and contacts to tag groups and purchases. But linking it to search seems like a misstep, Ritter explained to me, for a variety of reasons, but maybe just because searching for something assumes you know what you’re looking for. The new problem is that our data is spread so widely that you may not even remember anything to remember.

“What we’re building is not search, but learning AI. On top of that, it understands what’s important to you to help you be more productive,” Ritter said. The system will use modules that meet a variety of needs, the first of which is “for people who have a crowded life in meetings. We don’t remember everything; we can’t find all communications or documents for the time being; in meetings, we’re participating, and in the end we don’t have Time to follow up, because it’s time for the next meeting. Augment does that for you in addition to the apps you know and love.”

If you’ve ever worked with a talented EA or PA, you know how valuable it is to have this type of information at your fingertips – it’s mostly a matter of good organization rather than deep familiarity with the people or concepts involved. Not everyone has these skills, and it’s getting harder as the tools we use multiply and become siloed.

“We used to see the app ecosystem as the solution,” Ritter said. “Now we have a ton of point solutions and application pages.”

One solution is to do everything on one service, or two services that are very tightly integrated. If you don’t mind being completely at the mercy of Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Salesforce, that’s great. “Or you can use us as a bridge across services and use whatever calendar you want,” he continued.

Enhanced example that pops up in context.

Augment’s CTO, Dan Cintra, whose resume includes both Google and Axon, describes what the product does for people who find themselves often unprepared or completely unaware of what’s coming next. (I’m one of those people, you might say. In fact, I was late for the meeting with Augment for no reason.) “What we’re dealing with is context,” Cintra said.

He showed examples of what appeared when they met with me: contact information, recent threads in email or other applications, information pulled from whatever database I was in (usually LinkedIn, etc.), and soft information such as Topics I usually cover, some personal details, etc. It includes files sent between us in relevant conversations, and links to those recordings and summaries if we have had meetings before. After the meeting, you’ll receive action items marked for people, transcripts and summaries, and other follow-up actions.

This is all shown through native apps that pop up before and after meetings, but the browser can also be “enhanced”, where in the browser overlay AI pops up information in the right places – on calendar entries, meeting invitations on, or next to your name in an email thread.

Here’s Augment’s first Augment in action video:

None of this was introduced via an API with Gmail, Zoom, or anything else. It’s all collected and organized by Augment’s agents and organized on their own systems.

“We’re streaming data because of where we are in the stack,” Cintra said. Where is that? Obviously, in a very privileged position, as the proxy has access to your browser, sound input and output, etc. It’s required for it to function, but it’s not just doing screen scraping or hacking together.

Enhanced Search works much like the intent of Atlas Recall.

“Its primary approach is through accessibility and assistive devices — you can think of it as an automated Evernote,” Ritter suggests. I replied that anyone working in IT or security probably couldn’t hear him because the alarm bells were going off in their heads. After all, a single point of failure aggregates data for every service you use.

Ritter admits there may be some skepticism, but they built security and privacy carefully from the start, getting SOC 2 certified and ensuring users own their data from top to bottom. It may take a while for businesses to embrace this level of meta-organization, but he noted that it will also take them years to adapt to Dropbox, the iPhone and other technologies that are now indispensable. Currently they are targeting individual prosumers, perhaps freelancers juggling multiple clients at once.

Augment is finally coming out of stealth today after raising a $3.5 million seed round, led by Flying Fish and JAZZ Venture Partners, with participation from Incisive Ventures and the Allen Institute for AI’s Incubator (which I covered earlier).



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