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Aiqudo today announced it has raised a $5.2 million funding round. The startup uses voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to control smartphone apps with pre-made or customizable voice commands. Aiqudo is currently available in beta in the Google Play Android store and is being reviewed for consideration in the iOS App Store.

The funding will be used to hire more employees and expand Aiqudo operations, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.

Based in San Jose, Aiqudo also announced today a merger with Belfast, Ireland-based startup Sophia. Former Sophia CEO David Patterson will lead Aiqudo’s team working on natural language processing to understand a user’s commands and tie them to actions taken by smartphone applications.

Also planned in the coming weeks are an Aiqudo app for creating and carrying out custom commands, a software development kit, and a Google Assistant integration.

Voice apps like Alexa skills and Google Assistant actions can do some pretty compelling things, but they aren’t actually used that often. On average, only 3 percent of Alexa skills are able to retain users after their first week of usage, according to voice analytics company VoiceLabs.

Custom integrations for apps voice computing have proven popular. IFTTT for example, has seen the creation of more than 750,000 custom applets since last fall for AI assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana.

Atlantic Bridge Capital was the sole investor in the $5.2 million funding round. Aiqudo currently has 23 employees, and the company said it will retain its offices in Ireland.


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