New startup investment program launched by Google to bolster its digital assistant ecosystem

Google has launched a new investment programme (similar to Amazon’s programme launched back in 2015) to back early-stage startups building capabilities and devices using the Google’s digital assistant, and a Seattle company is among the first batch of investments.

In addition to investment, the program includes advice from Google engineers, product managers, and design experts as well as promotion from Google’s marketing teams. Startups will gain access to the Google Cloud Platform and partnership programs to get first look at any new features or tools.

Pulse Labs is amongst the first batch of companies and aims to connect voice developers with appropriate users who can test their apps, offering a way to assess how real people interact with their technology. It provides data to clients that show, for example, which prompts work and which don’t. The seven-person company was part of the inaugural Alexa Accelerator, a Seattle-based program that Amazon runs in partnership with Techstars to support startups developing technologies related to its voice platform.

A similar approach helped Amazon grab the early lead in the competitive voice assistant market. Amazon opened Alexa up to developers and device manufacturers in 2015 and has steadily added new ways to build Alexa into products and apps.

Amazon launched its digital assistant-oriented Alexa Fund in 2015. The $100 million fund is meant to push the boundaries of voice-based interaction. The tech giant had invested in more than 30 startups as part of the fund as of February.




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