Nick D'Aloisio isn't your average teenager. The Wimbledon-based 16 year old wrote an iPhone app last summer, during an unproductive afternoon revising for a history exam. Summly might not sound like much – it scans digital content (like search results and web pages) and simplifies/ summarises it*.
Summly (a free app) launched on iTunes in December 2011, and had 30,000 downloads in its first week. If you use the patent pending (and much-lauded) technology, you'll be blown away by just how impressive it is – and how much potential its artificial intelligence has.
You wouldn't be the first to be impressed with D'Aloisio's hard work; Summly's first iteration (Trimit) caught the eye of the world's 11th richest man, Li Ka-shing. Ka-shing happens to run private equity investment firm Horizon Ventures, who funded D'Aloisio to the tune of $250,000 (which made him the youngest person in the world to ever receive venture capital); all before his 16th birthday.
In an interview with Wired magazine late last year, D'Aloisio suggested he was developing Summly for other platforms, including a desktop version, alongside his GCSE schoolwork. According to the Summly Twitter stream, the newly formed company are currently raising another round of funding and are planning to launch a "new product" in May.
Mobile devices are enabling users to consume significant amounts of information in a location-independent manner. Although mobile devices have significant benefits, avoiding the information overload that these devices can present is going to become a key area of technological innovation over the next few years – with artificial intelligence like Summly (and Apple's Siri) are poised to be the first industry leaders in the space.
*It's worth noting that although Summly has faced its fair share of criticism (for not actually achieving what it's set out to do), the app and its technology are fast improving as the algorithms are refined and updated. The potential for this technology is unlimited. Stick with it!