Artificial intelligence could soon find its way into our mobile phones, enabling them to act as a virtual personal assistants.

Researchers at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have developed new AI software, called Magitti. It reportedly uses a combination of cues - including the time of day, your location, your past behaviour, and even your text messages and calendar events - to gather information about your interests.

Mobile intelligence

Based on the lifestyle data it has access to, Magitti can then calculate and display a helpful list of suggestions, including things like concerts, movies, bookstores, and restaurants that you might be interested in.

For example: if it's midday, Magitti might show you a list of local restaurants where you can go for a spot of lunch, replaced by a list of pubs later on in the evening, or shops on a Saturday morning for example.

The recommendations will be improved and their accuracy refined as Magitti collects more info about your preferences. It will also use GPS to locate nearby establishments that might also take your fancy, taking into account your preferred budget for example.

The researchers say that the Magitti software is different from location-based services offered by the likes of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!.

Building self-awareness

"What's unique [about Magitti] is that we've tried to build awareness of different kinds of activities," Victoria Bellotti, senior researcher at PARC, told Technology Review.

"We want to find what kind of mode [the user is in]: if they're hungry, if they're interested in being entertained ... And we're trying to make this a relaxing interactive experience rather than being bothersome with alerts or requiring you to do searches."

Adding artificial intelligence to mobile phones is set to become more popular in the coming years; Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, and universities such as MIT all have groups that are exploring the applications for this type of software.

Magitti will be trialled in Tokyo during spring 2008 - prototypes have been running the Windows Mobile OS. Depending on the feedback, Magitti could be rolled out more broadly in the US and Europe, the researchers said.