Google To Invest In Startups To Make Assistant Smarter

Google has announced it is launching a new investment program for early-stage startups that can help the company improve its digital assistant.

The company is looking to build Google Home's skills so it can compete with Amazon's Alexa. This program is a way to entice developers to build for Google's platform.

"It's about bringing the resources of Google to bear to build the digital assistant ecosystem," said Nick Fox, a vice president in Google's Search and Assistant business unit, according to CNBC.

The program will be comprised of several components, including investment capital from Google for the development, hiring and management of the startups; advice from Google engineers, product managers and design experts; partnership programs for early access to upcoming features and tools; access to the Google Cloud Platform, the suite of cloud computing services that run on the same infrastructure used for products like Google Search and YouTube; and promotional support through Google marketing channels.

"We’re welcoming companies across a diverse range of fields, including startups that are developing technologies that broaden the Assistant’s set of features, or are building new hardware devices for digital assistants, or that focus on a particular industry such as travel, games or hospitality," the company said in a press release.

Google also included its first batch of investments:

GoMoment, which created Ivy, a 24/7 concierge for hotel guests. It's used by hotels like Caesars Palace, Treasure Island and Hard Rock.

Edwin, a personal English tutor powered by AI that prepares students looking to take English as a foreign language.

Botsociety, which created a tool used by more than 30,000 developers worldwide to design, prototype and test voice interfaces.

Pulse Labs, which allows developers to test their applications with real people.

While Fox declined to say how much Google invested into these companies, he did describe the amounts as "relatively meaningful" without being majority stakes.



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