Google said today it wants to supercharge digital assistant platforms by investing in companies that help in development of such services.
The company made the announcement in a blog post attributed to Nick Fox, vice president of search and Google Assistant and Sanjay Kapoor, vice president of corporate development. The pair framed the effort as part of the company’s larger goal of encouraging open ecosystems around other products such as Android and Chrome.
Naturally, the company wants to boost its own digital assistant platform, Google Assistant. But the fund doesn’t appear to be limited to companies that only use that platform. Some of the initial companies receiving funding, for instance, also work on Amazon’s Alexa platform as well.
“We’ve provided tools for creating natural conversational experiences and are working closely with device partners to create new surfaces — just take a look at some of the imaginative devices we built for the Assistant,” they wrote. “Developers have created a wide range of Actions — some practical, some inspirational — that help you get things done in new ways we couldn’t have predicted just a few years ago, whether that’s helping you control your smart home, find subway times, or even helping you meditate.”
The company didn’t reveal the size of the investment program, or of the individual investments. But they did say it would target “early-stage startups that share our passion for the digital assistant ecosystem.” The backing will also include mentoring from Google employees on engineering and design, inclusion in Google partnerships that offer early looks at new products and services, use of the Google Cloud Platform, and promotional support.
Google also announced the initial batch of companies to receive funding:
GoMoment: Makes Ivy, a concierge for hotel guests.
Edwin: Conducts a tutorial program for people learning English as a second language.
BotSociety: Offers a tool to let developers test voice interfaces.
Pulse Labs: Helps application designers test voice applications and analyze insights.
Companies can apply for funding via a new form Google has placed online.