Den­ver startup Josh.ai picks up $8 mil­lion

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ta­mara Chuang

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.’ ”

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