The plan is to engineer a web based platform able to bring complex, state of the art knowledge extraction techniques to the doorstep of users with no data mining expertise.
"All too often", says project leader and data scientist Simone Pampuri,"we have seen professionals and companies deal with huge amounts of data, with little direction on how to extract vital information for their businesses. And each time we have asked ourselves,'isn't there a better way?'".
And thus, the idea of building a 'virtual data analyst that lives in your browser' was born. StatWolf promises to let users upload their own datasets (spreadsheets but also images, audio and text files) and analyze them with the assistance of a "technique recommendation system", an engine capable of interpreting and translating the needs of the statistically untrained to a rigorous, science-fueled approach. Additionally, users will have the possibility to use an integrated suite of editing tools to create reports, presentations, infographics and custom dashboards. The web-based technology behind this approach will enable the creation of interactive documents (for instance, presentations with clickable charts and multiple drill-down capabilities) aimed to provide deep access to the findings and insights uncovered by StatWolf.
"Three main challenges are associated to StatWolf's development", according to head developer Andrea Schirru. "First of all, we have to hide the complexity of our techniques under a friendly layer, much like you can drive your car without knowing the first thing about engines and cylinders. Moreover, we must build a rock-solid IT infrastructure in the cloud, capable of dealing with thousands of intensive calculations every second. And finally, we must cater to a vastly diverse audience, from the biologist relying on distribution tests for research purposes to the manufacturing company in need of statistical violation control for its processes, to the data-driven journalist looking for trends and correlations in public indicators. What I can tell to our Indiegogo backers", he concludes,"is that our eyes are firmly set on the prize; we are up for the task and very excited by the challenge".
Following a well established pattern in crowdfunding, the StatWolf team is offering across the board discounts for backers, as well as free and exclusive access to the closed beta; users that have no possibility to contribute can help spread the voice about the campaign and win a lifetime subscription in the process. Enterprise reward tiers, inclusive of customized algorithms and dashboards, are meant to appeal companies with "Big Data" needs.
StatWolf (statwolf.com) is expected to launch in closed beta (restricted to Indiegogo backers) during January 2014, and open to the general public around next April.