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Meet Siri's Less Popular Sister: Trap.it


Hank Nothhaft

While Siri's sister company can't talk back to you, it is just as smart.

Like Siri, Trap.it came out of a $200 million program funded by DARPA.

The five-year program was called CALO, which is short for Cognitive Assistant That Learns and Organizes. 

Siri was acquired by Apple in April 2010.

Trap.it, on the other hand, is still a startup. 

It's a web-based personalized news reader. It lets you put in URLs of your favorite web pages, then figures out other sites to recommend for you based on your tastes.

Cofounder Hank Nothhaft told us, "The Internet isn't as fun and accessible as it was before. The Internet became Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. It is our gateway to the Web, but so much content is not surfaced. The Internet is more than pictures of friends at a party."

Trap.it looks at 100,000 blogs, Twitter feeds, and publishers. It's not SEO garbage, Nothhaft said, and uses human curators to make sure the content that they are serving up is good.

"Without high quality content, there isn't much to consume. These days, people don't make the distinction between newspaper, magazine, and social. We just want it in a compelling format and want to be able to share it and socialize around it." Nothhaft said.

"It will build an interest model and rate more content as I go. It searches the Web on my behalf. Every morning, I get an email briefing of relevant articles," Nothhaft said.

Unlike Flipboard and other social magazines that are pretty RSS feeders, Nothhaft said, Trap.it actually has a recommendation engine -- similar to Zite, which was bought by CNN for a rumored price of more than $20 million.

While Trap.it started on the Web, the company plans on launching an iPad app in May. 

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