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article imageAmazon invests in startup trying to increase voice AI engagement

By James Walker     Feb 1, 2018 in Technology
Amazon has invested in a startup trying to address the low uptake of voice-controlled apps and digital assistants. Pulse Labs is trying to find ways to convince people they should keep using voice control.
Digital assistants face a major problem. Although their technical capabilities are rapidly progressing, few people actually engage with them on a regular basis. After initially setting them up and trying them out, voice control goes unused in favour of more dependable alternative input methods.
Voice control faces multiple challenges. It's still a relatively new technology and it's dogged by the inaccuracy of previous implementations. People are also sceptical that they really need or want voice control. Until this new breed of apps can prove they are faster than regular touchscreen interfaces, users will keep falling back to what they know and trust.
Pulse Labs is trying to solve some of these challenges by making it easier for voice app developers to get feedback. The company's currently working with developers building apps for Alexa. It connects them with real users before the app publicly launches, providing invaluable feedback into how the service is used. Developers can then adjust the experience to encourage prolonged engagement.
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"Developing apps for voice is a significantly different process than app development on other platforms – as our workflows and interactions shift away from more traditional platforms and mediums, consumers have different expectations regarding how an app responds, and designers will need to understand this change," said Abhishek Suthan, Pulse Labs co-founder and CEO.
Pulse Labs has now raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by Madrona Venture Group. The Amazon Alexa Fund and Bezos Operations also contributed. Amazon clearly stands to benefit if Pulse Labs is successful in increasing consumer adoption of voice-based apps. The company's Alexa assistant has over 30,000 skills but still needs users to keep coming back.
Pulse Labs is currently accepting applications from interested app developers and voice app testers. Once approved, testers will be invited to try out new voice apps ahead of their public launch. In return, they'll receive compensation for completing surveys about their experience. The company's also preparing to extend its service to work with Google Assistant too, enabling app developers to target both major digital assistant ecosystems.
More about Ai, voice control, Artificial intelligence, digital assistants, future tech
 
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