Startup ex­pands foot­print in the US

Voice-con­trolled ac­cess to in­ter­net with an app

The Courier-Mail - - BUSINESS - JANELLE MILES

A QUEENS­LAND startup, which has de­vel­oped free soft­ware giv­ing peo­ple voice­con­trolled ac­cess to the in­ter­net, is set to ex­pand into the United States early next year.

Alkira Soft­ware, which boasts former Premier Camp­bell New­man as a di­rec­tor, is pre­par­ing to launch an app, which will al­low peo­ple to pay bills, or­der gro­ceries, fill out a form or do their bank­ing with­out hav­ing to read or type a word.

The app will be in­te­grated with smart speak­ers – Ama­zon’s Alexa, Google Home and Ap­ple’s Siri – giv­ing peo­ple voice-con­trolled ac­cess to par­tic­i­pat­ing web­sites whether they’re at home, at work or in the car.

Peo­ple can down­load the Alkira web as­sis­tant app for free.

But Alkira Soft­ware CEO Si­mon Horne said rev­enue would be raised through or­gan­i­sa­tions such as banks, lo­cal gov­ern­ments and su­per­mar­ket chains pay­ing for their web­sites to ac­cess the “voice-en­abling” soft­ware.

He said or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Aldi, the Bris­bane City Coun­cil and mo­tor­ing body RACQ were al­ready on board.

“We’re mainly targeting the big house­hold names,” Mr Horne said.

The soft­ware is ex­pected to im­prove the lives of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties but the com­pany hopes it will also ap­peal to the gen­eral pub­lic.

For ex­am­ple, Mr Horne said the app could be used by peo­ple in the kitchen want­ing to multi-task by do­ing their bank­ing or pay­ing their bills at the same time as cook­ing their din­ner.

“You’ll be able to fill out a form or com­plete a trans­ac­tion on­line us­ing your voice,” he said.

Mr Horne said the com­pany was in the process of rais­ing $1.5 mil­lion to op­ti­mise the tech­nol­ogy be­fore launch­ing in the lu­cra­tive US mar­ket next year.

“We’ve got a num­ber of part­ners over there who are in­ter­ested,” he said.

The com­pany was founded by Ray Guy who de­vel­oped voice-ac­ti­vated in­ter­net nav­i­ga­tion soft­ware to help a blind friend run his busi­ness.

“It’s re­ally great to see a piece of tech­nol­ogy de­signed to help the vi­sion im­paired be­come a mass mar­ket puller that helps ev­ery­body,” Mr Horne said.

Alkira’s tech de­part­ment is based on the Sun­shine Coast while its sales and mar­ket­ing is done in Bris­bane.

The Alkira app can be down­loaded free on the Ap­ple iTunes and Google Play stores or through the com­pany’s web­site, alki­ra­soft­ware.com

EX­PAN­SION: Si­mon Horne, CEO of Alkira Soft­ware which has de­vel­oped an app that gives voice-con­trolled ac­cess to in­ter­net. Pi­cure: Peter Wal­lis

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