Denver startup Josh.ai picks up $8 million
Denver-based Josh.ai, a high-end home automation system that listens for voice commands, added $8 million in private funding in its pursuit to bring a more intelligent system to a wider base of home users, company co-founder Alex Capecelatro said Monday.
The company, which was also cofounded by Quark founder Tim Gill, has raised $11 million since its 2015 inception. The new round will be used to build a hardware product and add about 10 engineers and other employees to its existing 15-person crew. The growing company also is tripling its office space in August and moving to a location in Cherry Creek that is about 3,000 square feet.
“We currently have a high-end system for luxury homes,” Capecelatro said. “The idea is to make it more widely available.”
Capecelatro said that Josh.ai’s technology came about because Gill couldn’t find an adequate home-automation system. So he built it — and Josh’s engineers helped complete the technology. But right now, it’s all
software. Customers who order it get a Mac Mini computer and iPad tablet that is integrated with Josh.ai’s technology. If all goes well, the company hopes to build its own consumer device and release it by the end of the year.
Right now, the system is about $10,000, which is much less than the $100,000 and up systems avail- able in the luxury home market. Clients still must hire an installer to help link Josh.ai to the home’s lighting, security, thermostat and other tools. The idea is to get Josh.ai’s hardware down to a few hundred dollars to be more affordable to everyday consumers.
Josh.ai, a name picked because it was “friendly and familiar,” is also the only luxury home-automation system built on voice controls, Capecelatro said. It uses artificial intelligence and natural language to understand what the homeowner is asking for. While that’s similar to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, those services don’t always know what a user wants because they’re trying to understand too much.
“It’s really hard to build a language processing system that does everything. You have to teach it,” Capecelatro said. “What we said is, if we focus exclusively on the home and voice commands for controlling the home, we’re able to do nearly 100 percent of what is asked. There are only a certain number of ways to say, ‘Open the shades,’ or ‘Make it hotter in here.’ ”