Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Kwaga

Web-based email services and applications are considered a classic example of cloud-based solutions offered by a large number of providers. Kwaga, however, goes a step beyond traditional cloud email services and offers a solution based of applied computational linguistics, which is able to understand email texts and take appropriate actions depending on the type and content of the message. Actually, applied linguistics is interested in artificial intelligence and a number of research laboratories around the globe have offered interesting applied solutions over time. However, few companies managed to offer a full-scale working product on the market, a product that can be easily utilized in PC users’ everyday activities and electronic communication.

France-based Kwaga was founded by Philippe Laval in 2008 and its SmarterEmails™ semantic toolkit, launched in October 2009, is available from the Google Apps Marketplace (Kwaga Context). SmarterEmails is a cloud-based solution that determines the relative importance of email messages using Kwaga’s cloud servers showing forgotten emails or messages that have to appear at a fixed date and time, for example. Kwaga claims that its proprietary semantic technology understands email text, detecting urgency, action requests, deadlines, contact details, etc. More interesting functionality is the ability of SmarterEmails to detect open-issues, meeting proposals and cancellations, and invoices. It looks like a simple software solution, however, those engaged in computational linguistics are aware that such solutions require sophisticated algorithms and advanced technology.

The company takes advantage of its semantic know-how to incorporate its product in various business platforms including Google Apps and the iPhone. Meeting cancellations are delivered Iphones through push Email technology, for example, with SmarterEmails detecting such messages in the background, working of Kwaga’s cloud servers. The company cloud-based solution is also offered as an extension for Google Chrome and via Google Apps Marketplace.

Another advantage of Kwaga’s solution is their lack of ambition to create a standalone email application but to focus on what they do best – semantic analysis. Therefore, SmarterEmails is able to work inside various email applications with Kwaga’s software running in the cloud without changing core user interface or functionality. Actually, the semantic tool extracts information that requires some sort of action from the user allowing customers to decide what to do when such information is delivered to their desktop or mobile device. The cloud semantic tool does not interfere in the normal operation of an email application until the user requires assistance.
Public versions of Kwaga are available for Gmail and Google Apps Mail while administrator of Google Apps domains can install the Kwaga contextual gadget for Google Apps for all users of their domain. All major browsers are supported while iPhone users should install the Kwaga Application for iPhone to use the service.

Technologically, the semantic tool works via Kwaga servers that access Google IMAP services to receive a copy of user emails and conduct semantic analysis of the text received. The company’s servers are AWS-based and are able to detect and store key phrases using semantic algorithms. Kwaga claims it respects the privacy of users and all emails are deleted immediately after the text is processes, storing only those key phrases that could be displayed to the user when he requests email intelligence assistance.

Kwaga says on its company website its semantic tool has processed over 5 million emails so far (without elaborating the exact time period) which is not so big number of emails to say that SmarterEmails is a widespread popular service. However, semantic tools are something one should expect to be part of many future applications and with growing cloud-computing services market computational linguistics will play increasing role in development of advanced technology solutions. Researchers, and Kwaga, are not really close to a fully operational and trustworthy semantic application that is able to read our emails and fully understand the context and nuances of meanings put in a text message. On the other hand, applied and computational linguistics provide powerful tools for developing semantic-based aiding applications that will be in high demand in an evolving virtualized world.

In early 2009, Kwaga received a small scale seed funding of EUR 600,000 and since then no additional funding rounds were reported. Although not constantly present in the news the company continuously develops its product and is adding new features like Kwaga Context, a contextual gadget for Google Apps that displays the sender’s social profile and user’s common history of threads, natively in Gmail. Kwaga BirdsEye is a new desktop widget version of their semantic email tool with more product enhancements expected in the future. At present, Kwaga is a relatively small European cloud computing start-up but a company one should keep a good eye on. The company barely has real  competitors, which is not necessarily a good news, but a tremendous growth potential for its services exists in an underdeveloped market that will increasingly rely on advanced cloud-based solutions.

By Kiril Kirilov

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