Disruptel raises $1. 1M to be smart TVs smarter

St . Louis-based vocals 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 have all been pre-processed.” With Disruptel, on the other hand, “everything is happening in real time,” which means it could theoretically work with any piece of content.

Disruptel’s flagship product Context is a voice assistant designed to work with smart TVs and their remotes. Quinn said he’s hoping to partner with smart TV manufacturers and streaming services and get this into the hands of viewers in the second half of this year.

In the meantime, the company has already created < a href="https://www.disruptel.com/smartscreen"> a Smart Phone display extension for many Google Chrome that you can try in the present day (using the extension, I effectively identified the actors on-screen during multiple scenes of the episode of “The Flash”). Quinn said the company is definitely the extension as way to demo the product and gather bridal data.

Baker (who sold his adtech company dataxu to Roku in 2019)   said he was convinced to upper back the company after seeing a simulated of the product: “It was in fact interesting to see the power, usually the fluidity of the experience. ”

He also suggested where Disruptel’s tech creates beginner opportunities to improve on the smart TELEVISION SYSTEM advertising experience, which he still described as largely consisting of “crap” — though he furthermore pointed to Hulu including of a service that can be powerful with “non-intrusive advertising and interstitial ads. ”

Asked how a high school candidate could create this kind of technology, Quinn (who is now 21) replied, “We had to learn. Our team is very focused on machine knowing how, and our machine schooling engineers were reading search for paper after research commode. We think that we have found good research solutions. ”

He added that anytime Disruptel had followed those leads of the big gamblers and focused on pre-processing subject material, “We would never even have turned to that journey. ”

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