[Speaktoit demo video on its Kickstarter project page. ]
We've seen plenty of cool hardware projects on Kickstarter, which has become a great place for tech entrepreneurs to test the market as well as raise money.
That's why we were surprised to see that Speaktoit -- a free talking-assistant app for Android phones whose Android user numbers have soared past 300K since Apple's Siri debuted last month -- has raised just over $4.5K of its $80K goal from 137 backers. The company needs to raise the remaining $75K by Sunday morning.
Speaktoit's app, most recently updated Nov. 2, gets 4.5 stars from over 4K reviews in the Android Market. Although Alan Henry of Lifehacker recently wrote that Vlingo is the best talking-assistant app for Android right now, he said that Speaktoit "has a lot of potential and it gives you a very personable and customizable caricature to interact with."
So why haven't Speaktoit's fans stepped up? Has the company simply not marketed its Kickstarter campaign very well? We found two @speaktoit tweets about Kickstarter: this one has one retweet (from Speaktoit's product director) and this one has none. The company has just 333 followers and 147 likes on Facebook.
Our next question: How badly does Speaktoit need the money? Founded in October 2010, Speaktoit does not appear to have raised money. The company is on AngelList but has just nine followers.
The project description on Kickstarter notes that the money raised will pay for food for the company's developers and linguists so they can add more features and improve the app. The wishlist includes improved calendar integration, the option to change the assistant's voice, the ability to read messages to you and new/more serious-looking avatars [ the app is known for its array of cartoon-y avatars and a less-than-ideal synthesized voice ].
We've reached out to Speaktoit co-founder and CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn, a Russian engineer with a background in natural-language technologies, for more details about the company's fundraising situation.
After clicking the microphone button in the app, it prompts you to ask your question. Making the app voice-activated is in the company's development plans.
Asking about the weather in a particular city brings up the forecast on screen while Speaktoit's assistant tells you the temperature and conditions for today.