Google announced an investment programme for early-stage startups to boost its digital assistant ecosystem, which will include mentoring and partnership initiatives.
“We’re welcoming companies across a diverse range of fields, including startups that are developing technologies that broaden the Assistant’s set of features, or are building new hardware devices for digital assistants,” the search giant said in a blog post.
Google will provide investment capital to provide financial resources for the development, hiring, and management of these startups, plus give them access to advice from Google engineers, product managers, and design experts.
The idea is that a partnership programme will enable startups to bring their products to market more quickly.
Four companies so far
Google is already working with four companies to help them “succeed in the Assistant ecosystem”. These are GoMoment, a concierge service for hotel guests; Edwin, an English tutor powered by AI; BotSociety, a tool that lets developers design and test voice interfaces; and Pulse Labs, whch helps designers understand what their user wants to do.
Google didn’t disclose how much the investments are worth but the company’s VP for search and Google Assistant Nick Fox told TechCrunch: “We’ll invest as much as we see fit,” adding that the company is looking for startups that are “pursuing an interesting space for Assistants, such as vertical industries like travel or gaming.”
The internet giant faces competition from Amazon and Apple as they invest in smart search devices with voice assistants such as speakers.
Earlier this week, Amazon detailed plans to double the workforce at its Boston technology hub, beginning with the intake of new staff to beef up the capabilities of its Alexa voice assistant.
Last month Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is working on the next evolution of Google Assistant, which will involve helping users complete tasks rather than just supplying them with information.