11.07.17

Josh.ai secures $11 million funding to boost home automation

edited image representing Josh.ai home automation system in the kitchen, home

US-based startup Josh.ai has announced that it has hit $11 million in funding for its voice-controlled home automation technology. The company is expected to unveil its own hardware at CEDIA 2018 in September.

A costlier yet more capable option for bringing AI into the home, Denver-headquartered Josh.ai’s work voice-controlled home automation has been gathering a lot momentum since the startup made its debut at Innovation Alley at CEDIA 2016 in Dallas, over a year after being founded.

Launched by Alex Capecelatro, CEO, and Tim Gill, CTO, the duo’s venture into the smart home space looks to come to fruition with a new farfield mic solution in a new hardware device dedicated to home automation expected to be launched later this year (our money’s on CEDIA, with word of a big launch from the company already hinted at by the startup).

Now a team of 15, and soon to be 25, with offices in LA and Denver, the company recently signed on the dotted line for $8 million in new funding, largely from the founders’ personal networks, according to TechCrunch.

The price of the product is likely to sit in the premium bracket due to the scale of capability Josh can offer, yet the company hope to bring a mass market offering out in the next 12-18 months. Capecelatro told TechCrunch: “It will still be a premium product, but it will be a lot less than where the current product is.”

The current offering from Josh.ai on the market incorporates a Mac mini for NLP, an iPad for control and software (supporting cloud-based automatic speech recognition) that runs the home. It can still work over an Echo of Google Home, with interfaces for iOS, Android and the web. The system is as yet capable of working with devices from more than fifty manufacturers (including the likes of Lutron, Sonos, Nest and Samsung) on the network. Designed primarily for large-scale luxury properties, the company state is has so far sold between 50-100 systems to integrators.

Just how do Josh.ai hope to position themselves in the market (and worth an investment in the thousands rather than hundreds)? “We understand the architecture of buildings. We know the floors, rooms and the devices (which are automatically discovered), and that’s the reason you have a very flexible way to talk. You can just say, ‘dim the lights in the kitchen a little bit,’ as we’re able to handle speech very naturally,” explained Josh.ai CEO, Alex Capecelatro, when HiddenWires caught up with him earlier this year.

He added: “We’re the only ones that we know of so far that can handle a string of multiple commands in one breath. And it’s important, because you may come in the house and say ‘turn on CNN in the kitchen and put the lights on,’ and you don’t want to have to issue those commands one at a time.”

The added intelligence from the company’s extensive research into AI also sets Josh.ai apart from off-the-shelf voice control offerings from Amazon, Google and now, even Apple too. Josh.ai technology is able to learn behaviour from analysing everything in the home to offer a personal experience. You can even take your pick from a variety of smart assistant personas for the home.

“One of the issues with voice control is that there’s not a single phrase for a single room, you might call it the ‘living room,’ but someone else may call it the ‘playroom’ and if they try and use anything else it fails,” commented Capecelatro. “We make it easy for the integrator to see and make changes remotely so they can make that experience better without the customer even being part of it.” In addition to responding to voice commands, the complete Josh.ai system tracks the network to learn all behaviour going on in the home and recognise and react to user routines.

Read our feature on the rise of voice control in the home automation space featuring Josh.ai CEO, Alex Capecelatro.