Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, the young Basque entrepreneur founder of Anboto Group, is back on the news with Sherpa 2.0, a virtual assistant for Android-based devices.
We talked with him back in 2011, when Anboto was in the middle of an expansion plan where an office in Boise, Idaho would join others in Erandio-Bilbao, Basque Country, and Redwood City, CA. In the end, the economic downturn in Spain broke havoc with the plan and the project never came to fruition.
Last week, CNET Editor Paul Sloan dedicated his Wednesday blog post to the US launch of Xabier’s new vision for a digital assistant app, Sherpa, an application already popular in Spain and Latin America.
Sherpa, the new kid in town
The latest entrant is Sherpa, a natural language Android app that’s a top app in Spain and Latin America and today is rolling out in the U.S. — first for Android, eventually for iOS.
Like Siri, Sherpa attempts to help organize your life and perform tasks when you ask the app questions or give it commands. It’s the brainchild of Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria, who’s based in Bilbao, Spain, and has been working on natural language and semantic technology for more than a decade.
“My vision was to build interface to our digital life,” Uribe-Etxebarria told me. “For everything to be done through Sherpa. We haven’t done that yet. But compared with other, we’re way better. We’re beyond Siri.”
That will be up to users to decide. Sherpa, which also has offices in Redwood City, Calif., has partnered with a number of companies and draws on a number of sources, such as PayPal, Themoviedb.org, Lastminute.com, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn. The idea is to limit the dependency on search engines so Sherpa can deliver up specific answers instead of a list of links.
Sherpa works in both English and Spanish, and the technology learns over time, says Uribe-Etxebarria, so it should get better at interpreting what you’re asking for.
It does some nifty things. You can ask it to show your mentions on Twitter, and it does. You can post directly to Facebook by talking. You can tell it to pay someone $10 through PayPal and complete the transaction. You can ask to hear a Rihanna song, and Sherpa begins to stream the music via a partnership with a European company that has the rights to 4 million tracks.