Disruptel raises $1.1M to make smart TVs smarter

St. Louis-based voice assistant startup Disruptel is announcing that it has raised $1.1 million in seed funding.

The money comes from an impressive group of investors who seem well-aligned with what the startup is aiming to do — namely, build a voice assistant that can provide detailed information about what’s happening on your TV screen. Those investors include PJC and Progress Ventures (which led the round), along with DataXu co-founder and former CEO Mike Baker, Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer, Sky executive Andrew Olson and DataXu co-founder Bill Simmons.

Disruptel CEO Alex Quinn told me that he began to pursue the idea in high school — the initial idea was more focused on TV gesture controls, but he decided that there was a bigger opportunity in the fact that “smart TVs don’t know what’s going on on their own screen.”

So he said Disruptel has built technology that has “a contextual understanding of everything that’s happening on the screen — every product, all of that data.” So for example, you could use the technology to ask your TV, “Who is the person in the brown shirt?”

Quinn’s description reminded me of Amazon’s X-Ray technology, which can tell you about the actors on-screen, as well as additional trivia about whatever movie or TV you’re watching on Amazon Prime. But he said that Amazon’s solution (as well as a similar one from Google) involves “static data — the videos (Read more...)