SmarterChild was an intelligent agent or bot developed by ActiveBuddy, Inc., with offices in New York and Sunnyvale. It was widely distributed across global instant messaging and SMS networks. SmarterChild became very popular with over 30 million Instant Messenger "friends" on AIM (AOL) and MSN over the course of its lifetime.
Founded in 2000, ActiveBuddy was the brainchild of Robert Hoffer, Timothy Kay and Peter Levitan. The idea for instant messaging bots came from the team's vision to add natural language comprehension functionality to the increasingly popular instant messaging and SMS platforms. The original implementation took shape as a word-based adventure game but quickly grew to include a wide range of database applications including instant access to news, weather, stock information, movie times, yellow pages listings, and detailed sports data, as well as a variety of tools (personal assistant, calculators, translator, etc.). These various applications were bundled into a single entity and launched as SmarterChild in 2001. SmarterChild acted as a showcase for the quick data access and possibilities for fun personalized conversation that the company planned to turn into customized, niche specific products.
The rapid success of SmarterChild led to targeted marketing-oriented bots for Radiohead, Austin Powers, Intel, Keebler, The Sporting News and others. ActiveBuddy strengthened its hold on the intelligent agent market by receiving a U.S. patent in 2002.
In many ways, SmarterChild was a precursor to Apple's Siri and Samsung's S Voice. As Shawn Carolan of Menlo Ventures, a Siri investor said in Forbes Magazine (October, 2011), “…When I first encountered Siri, SmarterChild already had 10 million users and was getting a billion messages a day… The market was speaking.”
The ActiveBuddy, Colloquis and Microsoft team that launched and nurtured SmarterChild's current project is AB2.
- Cha, Ariana Eunjung (September 6, 2002). "Web May Hold the Key to Achieving Artificial Intelligence". The Washington Post.
- Estabrooks, Mac (February 16, 2006). "See SmarterChild. See SmarterChild type. SmarterChild types fast. Type, SmarterChild, type.". The Toronto Star.