Argus Labs, the Belgian company behind soon-to-launch mobile virtual assistant Jini, has closed a €500,000 ($640,000) seed funding round from a number of angel investors, including Samsung President and Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn.
The company — which has offices in Antwerp, Belgium, and Palo Alto, US — says that the money will be used to “intensify” the development and distribution of the Jini service ahead of a planned launch in the summer of 2013. The capital will also go towards increasing its operations in Silicon Valley.
Sohn, who leads Samsung’s innovation efforts in the US, is obviously the big name investor, but other angels that participated in the round include: Marco De Ruiter, formerly COO of Viacom Northern-Europe, Hummingbird Ventures Partner Frank Maene, tech advisor Guy Vancollie and Nova Participations investment manager Jan Wierenga.
Jini is currently in private beta testing, and it is one of a number of services that provides contextual data and information to users via their smartphone, of which Apple’s Siri is perhaps the most famous. More than a reactive assistant, Argus Labs says Jini monitors a range of data to learn a user’s behaviour and consumption patterns to create a more personal and “useful” experience.
The company sketches the following scenario to explain what Jini can do:
Jini can recommend an individual user to get out of bed because it knows he’s slept long enough (based on his average sleeping patterns), nudge him to head to work early because the roads on the way to his office are more congested than usual. And because it knows he likes listening to heavy metal music while driving, Jini can also suggest to play a Motörhead album en route.
Argus Labs says it is currently testing Jini with an undisclosed number of partners across a range of verticles, including mobile advertising, dating, health, and the music industry. That suggests, it says, that these industries will be its target partners once Jini is made public.
With Jini slated for launch this summer, we’ll soon get a chance to see why Samsung’s Mr Innovation has put his hands in his pockets to make this personal investment.
Argus Labs previously raised a €200,000 (near-$250,000) seed funding round in 2011.
Full disclosure: TNW’s Robin Wauters is an advisor to Argus Labs (not that I’ve ever been influenced by him on anything, aside from Belgian beer selection and corrections to my faulty French vocab.)
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