MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--AwayFind has been around for a while. It's a clever e-mail helper that will alert you on your mobile if you get an e-mail that's important enough to merit an interruption. But it's based on rules: You tell the service that e-mails from your boss are important but only when they're to you alone, and you'll always get a ping when she drops you a personal note. Unfortunately, managing rules gets old. So AwayFind is adding e-mail reading intelligence and sentiment analysis to its filters. The company is trying to build a system that can figure out which e-mails are important enough to break through to you, without requiring you to set up a filter ahead of time.
The first smart filter is coming out soon, AwayFind CEO Jared Goralnick told me today at the 500 Startups Demo Day here. It'll work by watching your online (or Exchange) calendar as well as your e-mail. If you get a message from a person with whom you have a meeting scheduled shortly before the meeting is scheduled to start, AwayFind will forward the message to you, assuming that the e-mail is likely to be about the meeting itself.
Coming soon, the company will be layering in sentiment analysis. It'll read your e-mails for you, and alert you when someone writes you in a certain tone or about a certain topic. Say you want to get alerted when a customer e-mails you with a complaint, for example. That might be a hard rule to write for you and me, but if the algorithm can discern "angry," it could be a very valuable service.
I don't care what the social-network punks say, e-mail isn't dead. But it is overwhelming. Anything that can help people tease out the important e-mails from their overflowing inbox is worth a shot. I'm looking forward to trying this one out.