QTech’s reQall makes custom reminders for scatterbrains.
By Lissa Harris
Founding date: 2004
Funding amount: $5 million
Sunil Vemuri, cofounder of QTech, observes that “one of the dark secrets of memory aids is that people forget to use their memory aids.” The company hopes to solve this problem with a Web-based tool called reQall, which grew out of Vemuri’s doctoral research at MIT. Users enter calendar items, grocery lists, brilliant ideas, and other snippets of information into the system; they can do this as text over the Web or via a toll-free phone number. Then reQall uses a combination of speech recognition software, human transcriptionists, and proprietary algorithms to generate reminders by phone, text message, RSS feed, or e‑mail, or through a Web interface (the details are customized to the user). “Our main competition is the Post-it note,” Vemuri says.
QTech’s advisors include leading figures in digitally assisted memory, including Microsoft’s Gordon Bell. Former MIT Media Lab head Walter Bender, Vemuri’s PhD advisor, says reQall “helps reduce the instances of forgetting in the first place.” But QTech initially forgot to make money from the business. It’s now exploring partnerships with cell-phone companies, fee-based “premium” accounts, and advertising models.