July 12, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Medal raises $13M as it develops contextual AI assistant for desktops

Medala startup that is best known for its video game clipping productjust announced that it has raised $13 million at a valuation of $333 million from several investors including Horizons Ventures, OMERS Ventures, peak6, and Arcadia Investment Partners.

The company also introduced Highlight, a new cross-platform desktop app that acts as a contextual AI assistant for users. The app captures the content of the screen and allows users to ask questions to a large language model (LLM) based on that context.

Henry Gladwyn, a partner at OMERS Ventures, told TechCrunch during a call that the venture firm saw an opportunity to take Medal’s core technology and apply it to LLMs.

“Medal’s core technology is based on the idea of ​​understanding what’s happening on someone’s device, whether it’s video, audio, or what’s happening around them. That was originally used for clipping. Now, the company is taking that technology and applying it to LLMs to give prompts, which is a clever use,” Gladwyn said.

Gladwyn added that he viewed Medal as a product for recording the best moments of virtual life, rather than just a gaming company, and the Highlight app is a natural extension of that paradigm.

How does Highlight work?

Over the years, companies have tried to create a useful assistant for users that uses the information on the screen. Google has been trying for years with Google Now, Google Assistantand now GeminiApple made a foray into this area when it launched Apple Intelligence and its ability to understand contextual information on screen last month at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Microsoft is also leveraging generative AI with Windows Recoverya feature that helps users find content they've seen in the past; after the initial announcement, Microsoft decided postpone the release of Recall.

Highlight is trying to make this happen on the desktop. In the current version, the app is displayed as a floating button on the desktop. Whenever you hover over the icon, it captures the contents of the screen and passes it as context to different models. You can choose to ask other questions using different tools like ChatGPT, Claude from Anthropic, Perplexity, and more.

Image credit: Medal

Based on different models, the app pre-fills some of the questions to help you get started. Capturing is done locally and the app does not store any content. The company is developing its own ChatGPT-like assistant, which may be less capable than cloud-based models for some tasks, but this assistant could eventually run locally on your device.

In addition to on-screen content, you can also pass a document and the system's audio buffer as context to Highlight. To take advantage of the audio use case, the company is building a local transcription app for meetings that is similar to tools like Big wave, Unlimitedand Krisp.

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Pim de Witte, one of Medal’s co-founders, told TechCrunch during a call that the company started thinking about how they could use Medal.tv’s clip-capturing technology and fuse it with AI last year.

“We know that recoding activities will be important for operating systems and we have seen some large technology companies take steps in this direction. We want to offer an open platform to connect users with assistants, models and interfaces,” said de Witte.

He also mentioned that he wanted to create an AI app that could be used by people of all ages, even if they are not tech-savvy. That is why the app will display contextual suggestions based on the capture.

The company is also building an open platform for developers to deploy their own applications on the Highlight platform. This is somewhat equivalent to The Raycast Launcher App for Macwhich allows you to install extensions created by developers. However, one key difference is that Highlight is available for both Mac and Windows.

Image credit: Medal

OMERS Ventures' Gladwyn said that because Highlights is independent and has no interest in being pulled into an ecosystem, it has an advantage.

The road ahead

Medal.tv is a successful product and the company wants to continue supporting it and adding new features. However, the company will allocate some staff to work on Highlight.

Highlights is free for now, but De Witte wants to monetize it using the app store model. The startup is also exploring a premium subscription to give access to some of its own apps and features, such as local models.

The company is also distributing grants of up to $30,000 to developers who will also have access to the Highlight team to develop the app ecosystem.

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