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Brainhat handles language, naturally

10/01/2001 08:07 AM
By Patricia Resende

First there were automated answering services, then computer intelligence. Remember robotic dogs?

Now we have Brainhat.

Brainhat Corp., a Connecticut-based company, has developed a natural language processing “executive” that can dispatch tasks, ask and answer questions and handle other events.

The East Hartford company recently announced a natural language operating system that can be programmed in English and can intelligently interact with users in automated question-and-answer environments.

For now, it relies on text information from a keyboard, but the goal is to make it capable of non-scripted verbal interactions with users. Brainhat is in talks with major automakers with the long-term goal of using the technology in automobiles. But the system can be used today on e-commerce sites or kiosks.

Brainhat’s Web site solicits users to play. For example, Brainhat asked this reporter if I wanted a room. When I responded “no,” it asked why I didn’t want a room and if I wanted a beer. Before long Brainhat was responding that it was sad and that this reporter didn’t like Brainhat because I didn’t want a room.

Brainhat began as a skunk project by a University of Connecticut graduate, Kevin Dowd. Dowd, along with founding Brainhat, is also a two-time author who published “High Performance Computing” and “Getting Connected to the Internet at 56K.” Dowd founded Atlantic Computing, an Internet security company and sold it to Integralis in February 2000 for nearly $10 million.

Now he is busy rolling out Brainhat while also seeking funding. For now, Dowd said he is self-funding Brainhat.

Brainhat’s artificial intelligence programming system works by creating a vocabulary for the specific application, building scenarios to facilitate reasoning and other activities that would be designed to determine a knowledge base. Dowd said that possible applications for Brainhat include:

•Instant messaging agents capable of handling text queries such as, “Did a package come for me?”

•Automated call attendants that can answer questions such as, “Is Joe Jones there?” or “Can you give me your fax number?”

•Interactive auditory guides for museum exhibitions. that allow visitors to ask questions such as, “Why is the statue’s head missing?” or “Why did Van Gogh cut off his ear?”

•Command processing for industrial robots, including the ability to send multiple messages asynchronously without sequencing.

The company also plans to roll out a personal genie that would schedule appointments and make phone calls.

Brainhat this month will also announce a voice XML/Web server, which interprets natural language requests.

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