Native Voice nabs $14M to convert devices into branded voice assistants

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Native Voice, a startup creating an SDK for audio device suppliers to integrate third-party voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, today announced that it closed a $14 million seed round led by Gutbrain Ventures, PBJ Capital, Signal Peak Ventures with participation from Revel Partners, Ideaship, TechNexus, and other folks. According to CEO John Goscha, the proceeds will be used to propel the enterprise onto more devices, expand its suite of voice services, and prove and scale its go-to-marketplace model.

According to Statista, by 2024, digital voice assistants will be installed on 8.4 billion smartphones, tablets, computer systems, appliances, and vehicles. Native Voice aims to provide a layer amongst customers and brands with voice assistants, working with brands to bring their assistants to its platform and with hardware suppliers to bring its platform to their devices. 

As Goscha explained, Native Voice connects with several assistants and their expertise, apps, and actions though acting as the library for brands deploying their personal voice-enabled options. With Native Voice, customers can unlock access to branded voice services like “Hey Spotify” and “Hey Uber,” as nicely as tap-to-speak functionality and constantly-listening wake-up capabilities across smartphones, earbuds, wise speakers, and vehicles.

“I have been interested in voice, frankly obsessed with it, for years. I saw a technology catalyst — voice technology had gotten a lot better and it was no longer only about simple use cases like ‘what’s the weather’ and ‘set a timer’ … I also saw a market catalyst where voice had become the fastest adopted technology in human history,” Goscha told VentureBeat by way of e mail. “Brands had also begun to embrace voice as the next interface and build their own voice service similar to how they built their own app with the advent of the smartphone. These two catalysts compelled me to decide it was time to start a company in the space.”

Voice assistants

In a current PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 90% of buyers mentioned they’ve utilized a voice assistant (72%), with adoption becoming driven mostly by younger customers and households with children. The firm concluded that effectively capitalizing on the technologies demands organizations to fully grasp the assistant’s strengths and possibilities for development, in addition to what’s required for buyers to trust the technologies.

Native Voice, which says it is working with brands in fitness, retail, and wise home markets, is accessible on Android by way of an app (with iOS to come) and constructed into 4 Bluetooth “hearable” devices. So far, it supports Alexa, Siri, and Spotify, supplying access to music, news, podcasts, radio, climate, fitness, meditation, and private finance services. 

Native Voice somewhat duplicates the efforts of the Open Voice Network (OVN), a Linux Foundation-backed alliance advocating for the adoption of open requirements across voice assistant apps in automobiles, smartphones, wise home devices, and more. With founding members Target, Schwarz Gruppe, Wegmans Food Markets, Microsoft, Veritone, Deutsche Telekom, and other folks, the OVN’s target — a lot like Amazon’s Voice Interoperability Initiative — is to standardize the development and use of voice assistant systems and conversational agents that use technologies which includes automatic speech recognition, organic language processing, sophisticated dialog management, and machine mastering.

But Native Voice’s exceptional proposition for brands is access to usage information. Goscha says that businesses on the platform personal the customer information, so that they can see how customers are interacting with their brand as nicely as techniques they could enhance the encounter.

“I believed the future of voice should look more like the internet and less like AOL, where users are able to interact with whichever voice service best meets their particular need. I thought it was amazing that when brands build their own voice service focused on their area of expertise the user experience could be so much better,” Goscha mentioned. “Brands like Bank of America and Spotify were investing tens of millions of dollars in building their own voice service, but it was hard for them to get onto the more than 400 audio device brands out there. And audio device manufacturers wanted to have all the voice services on their device, but they had a hard time doing deals with each brand one at a time and integrating one at a time. We needed a software layer — infrastructure if you will — connecting these two groups.”

With the funding announced today, which brings Denver, Colorado-based Native Voice’s total raised to $14.4 million, the enterprise plans to add 5 more individuals to its group of 30, a mix of complete- and element-time staff.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz

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