About Me

From Seattle to Africa, Andy Hickl Brings Big Ideas to Reality | Willamette Week
Andy Hickl is probably the most popular guy at any party that includes software engineers. Because he's the guy who helps Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen decide where to spend his tech money.

Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft Adds Custom Vision, Upgraded Face API to Its Cloud AI Slate | eWeek (March 2018)
Part of the Microsoft Cognitive Services collection of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) APIs, the Custom Vision service "makes it easy to build and refine custom classifiers" that can be incorporated into apps for iOS, Android and other devices, Microsoft Cognitive Services Principal Group Program Manager Andy Hickl told eWEEK. "Those applications are then imbued with visual intelligence capabilities that run in real time and don't require a live internet connection to a supporting cloud service."

Making AI Transparent | The O'Reilly Podcast with Jon Bruner (June 2017)

Contextual Awareness

Using a Smartphone's Eyes and Ears to Log Your Every Move | MIT Technology Review
Many of us already record the places we go and things we do by using our smartphone to diligently snap photos and videos, and to update social-media accounts. A company called ARO is building technology that automatically collects a more comprehensive, automatic record of your life.

Tracking Is Dead: The Next Wave of Wearables Is Context | Recode
Wearables are great at surfacing a lot of data. They're just not good at making sense of it.

'Life logging' app Saga lets you share every single moment of your life | VentureBeat
Saga knows when you've been sleeping, it knows when you're awake; it knows where you've been, what you've been doing, and, perhaps most importantly, what you should be doing. Saga is a "life logging" app that passively captures data about your activities and presents it in a comprehensible form, with insights and recommendations.

Siri is so aloof; Saga wants to get to know you | GigaOm 
A new app called Saga hit the App Store promising to be a personal assistant that knows what users are up to even if they don't. It wants to tell users where they've been, where they'll go next and how long it will take to get there.

Virtual Personal Assistants

Companion Is The New Assistant | TechCrunch
Today, assistants can perform a small set of tasks, each saving me a few precious steps (or clicks) along the way. That’s not the way it’s always going to be. In the future, assistants will be capable of doing more and more non-trivial things. And Norm Winarsky is right — Siri isn’t one assistant to rule them all. We’re soon going to have a whole posse of specialized software agents on our side.

Saga Launches Intelligent Companion for iPhone, a "Chatty Little Brother to Siri" | BetaKit
Saga is an intelligent companion that is designed to help you get more out of life,” co-founder Andy Hickl said in an interview. “What we want to build is the first of a new generation of apps that are out there looking out for you and trying to anticipate what you might need to get stuff done on a daily basis.” That might be where to eat in a new city, finding out why traffic is backed up, or the best route to take somewhere.

Conversations with my phone | Medium
My quibble isn’t with automatic speech recognition (ASR), the systems that transcribe my voice into something approximating what I actually said. I’m a native English speaker with a relatively neutral U.S. accent. Most of the ASR models used today have been trained on hundreds of thousands of hours of speech of guys just like me.


Aro Mobile Wants to Simplify Your Mobile Phone | New York Times
For many people, their mobile phones often double as a second brain. But efficiently searching through that reservoir of information to quickly locate contacts, coming events and addresses is still time-confusing and often frustrating.

Mobile Phone Software Makes Your Device Intelligent | Mashable
Aro is an Android app that connects e-mail, SMS, voice mail and social network updates to the people who sent them so you can find what you need when you need it.

Natural Language

New Startup Analyzes 100,000 Web Pages With a Snap of Your Fingers | ReadWrite
Machine processing of large quantities of unstructured text, to discover media mentions, relationships between entities and sentiment analysis need not be priced out of the range of the everyday web lover or small business.

Extractiv Launches “Semantics as a Service” Platform | ReadWrite
Extractiv has quietly launched a service that crawls the Web for text on a specific topic, then transforms it into “structured semantic data.” It’s a direct competitor to Thomson Reuters’ Calais product, which has been doing this for a couple of years now. This type of service is potentially valuable to media companies, search services and monitoring applications – because it turns messy, unorganized HTML content into data that is organized into categories and given other semantic ‘meaning.’

Swingly's Answer Engine Comes Out Of Stealth Swinging And Killing Zombies | TechCrunch
An insane number of searches on the web involve people asking questions. Sometimes they’re good questions, sometimes they’re stupid questions, sometimes they’re insane questions. Just start typing something into Google beginning with the words “How” or “Why” for proof of this — the auto-suggest speaks for itself. Sadly, Google isn’t great at answering questions because they’re a search engine that mainly returns hyperlinks. Sure, your answer may reside on one of those pages, but that requires another click and some browsing. A new service launching out of stealth mode tonight, Swingly, wants to perfect this task.

Meet Swingly, this year's "it" search startup | Mashable
Swingly has just come out of stealth, and it's already shaping up to be one of the more interesting search-related startups of 2010.

The Robot Made Me Do It: Comparing Three New Cyborg Q&A Services | ReadWrite  
One part people, one part machine. Is that a formula for more effective decision making? A number of high-profile entrepreneurs believe it is, and they are starting companies based on the idea.

What is IBM's Watson? | New York Times
Many experts imagine even quirkier ways that everyday life might be transformed as question-answering technology becomes more powerful and widespread. Andrew Hickl, the C.E.O. of Language Computer Corporation, which makes question-answering systems, among other things, for businesses, was recently asked by a client to make a “contradiction engine”: if you tell it a statement, it tries to find evidence on the Web that contradicts it.

Tech that translates doctors' orders | CNN
"We are just now in the beginning stages of the adoption curve for any kind of natural language processing technology. People are just now realizing that there is some value," says Andrew Hickl, the CEO of Language Computer Corporation, a closely held company that develops such technology.

Global Health

Andy Hickl (ARO/Saga) discusses the role of context in personal data systems at the Quantified Self  Public Health Conference (2015)

High-tech effort calls up smartphones for Ebola battle | LA Times
"If we can provide an aid worker with a cellphone, they can communicate back to headquarters about what's going on in the countryside in real time," said Andy Hickl, senior director for innovation at Vulcan Inc., Allen's technology firm. "We're taking it from six people [collecting data] in the field to 10,000 reporters from the field," Hickl said Saturday, as volunteers in the cavernous museum building scrambled to unpack phones and download software. "If we have the data in the right hands, we can make decisions about where the next supply plane or truck should go."

Tech Firms Extend Internet Access To Help Ebola Treatment in Africa | WSJ
Hickl said health officials told him they needed faster data gathering from the field. For instance, aid workers in treatment centers wrote weekly reports about new Ebola cases on pink forms, which were transported by motorbike to larger population hubs and then sent to organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Microsoft Billionaire Responds Nimbly as Ebola Epidemic Shifts | Seattle Times
For a data-driven organization like Vulcan, the lack of reliable information about the epidemic was frustrating, and was clearly hampering the response, said Andy Hickl, senior director for innovation. Hickl traveled to Ghana in early October, where the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response is based, to see for himself where the bottlenecks were and what help was needed. He found a handful of people were responsible for collecting data from across the region and had to contend with poor communications and spotty Internet connections. In some cases, information about new cases was entered on slips of paper and transported to cities via motorbike.

Andrew Hickl - Health data in context - Stanford Medicine X 2013