“You simply cc or forward your conference call invitation to Claire or Cleary, your AI powered assistant,” explains Clark.ai co-founder Shishir Bankapur. “Clarke.ai automatically dials into that number at the scheduled time and takes notes as other participants speak. After the call, Claire or Cleary compiles your notes and emails them to you.”
No downloads, no logins, no transcription service, no gritting your teeth at the thought of compiling call reports. Notes are delivered straight to you in your inbox, with to-dos and action items neatly cataloged. No hassles. No real people.
I had an opportunity to interview Bankapur and his co-founder, Chris Young. So what better time to enlist “Claire Clarke” and “Cleary Clarke”—the artificial brains of the operation—as my personal assistants to take the notes.
Clarke.ai In a Nutshell
Here’s how Shishir describes the Clarke.ai project as well as its broader potential:
“Trying to teach computers how to summarize large amounts of content, via audio or text, into small, ingestible, useful, action items. From there, the applications are endless, but call notes is a great first application for it because everyone wants them. No one actually wants to be stuck taking them. We saw a real need for solving this problem and it’s going towards an academic pursuit where we experiment with the technology in hopes to create other applications of the core technology. We decided to apply it right away so that people get real value out of it.”
Young and Bankapur met eight years ago at Drexel University in Pennsylvania. For years after introduction, the two toiled away at their own individual projects. Eventually, they teamed up for a joint startup venture. kicking off the Clarke.ai project in April of this year. Now, they are in the process of rolling out a Beta that Chris describes as, “smart and strategic.” According to the Clake.ai page on Product Hunt, current users include individuals and teams ranging from boutique firms to enterprises such as SAP and Deloitte. The bulk of the users are sales execs, management consultants, lawyers and financial advisers.
Targeting a broad range of users, the system is designed to push call notes to just about anything and anywhere; ensuring a painless integration with your favorite productivity tool, CRM or collaboration platform apparently involves only asking Claire or Cleary to email notes to a dedicated, custom email address.
A Low-Maintenance, High-Intelligence Employee
In VentureBeat’s Intelligent Assistance Landscape, Clarke.ai, like x.ai, falls into the Intelligent Employee Assistant space. That space is described as, “Automated agents that support increased employee productivity by facilitating communications, scheduling, search and discovery, project management, product lifecycle management and collaboration.”
Both Clarke.ai and x.ai are what x.ai CEO, Dennis R. Mortensen describes as “Vertical AI.” “These agents promise no more and no less than to perform one job for you,” explains Mortensen, “and to do it so well, you might even mistake them for a human.”
There are all kinds of jobs we want done right, but have little interest in catering to clichés and doing ourselves. One of them is certainly note-taking, so human or not, if the technology works, there will be no mistake at all.
Clarke.ai In Action
According to Corina Lam, SAP Chief of Staff, Global Partner Operations, what Clarke.ai offers is groundbreaking. “Rather than spending the time taking notes,” she describes, “it allows me to truly focus on the business conversations and outcomes of discussion.” Obviously I had to see the magic for myself. While I was placed in “Wave 46” after trying to sign up for the Basic service, unable to test the full experience directly, the Clarke.ai note-taker was “present” on my call with Chris and Shishir. Once the call was over, I was supplied with notes via email. Short and sharp, here is what I received:
- Assistant will summarize entire conversation from call
- Bias towards action items and next steps
- Trying to teach computers to summarize large amount of content into digestible items
- Everyone wants call notes, no one wants to be stuck taking them
- Chris & Shishir met 8 years ago, separately worked on startups since
- Teamed up on Clarke since April
- Private beta right now, accepting new users every week
- Letting people in to manage demand and quality
- Reliant on Claire to taken notes for use in piece
- Send notes earlier in AM
I have always imagined a brave new world of using more than one AI for my business. My ideal use case would be to have Amy Ingram, my AI PA from x.ai schedule the call, have Clarke.ai then take the notes and email them to me. Stuck in Beta limbo, unfortunately, that will have to wait for a future occasion.
One concern that I would have if ever reliant on a service like this is an outcome any less flawless than entirely flawless. Perhaps a glitch occurs and I don’t get the notes I needed from an extremely important call. For that reason, I would likely continue with my manual note taking in parallel—as a backup, at least at the start.
Another limitation is bridge systems with which there is a pre-entry speaking requirement. For example, some services ask for your name before allowing you to join a call. If your conference bridge has that gate, for the time being (the resolution is in their roadmap) you are out of luck with Clark.ai.
Overall, if Clarke.ai can consistently deliver on the promise of pain-free note taking—providing notes that are not only accurate but thorough and actionable—there will no doubt be many companies, large and small, happy to hop on board. The pain is there and thus, the need is there. It’s just up to Clarke.ai to come through before stenography gets a second wind.
Gail is a Chicago-based food scientist who writes for leading US and European food and technology publications. A devotee of all things shiny, electronic and buzzing, with a passion for building on-line communities and conservation, she is an entrepreneur and founder of a sustainability and social media startup who moonlights on weekends as DJ Moongirl on Moonalice Radio. Clients range from rock bands and media companies to high-tech startups.