Speech Technology Magazine

Overheard/Underheard: KITT.ai's Snowboy to Help Developers Add Voice Activation

By Leonard Klie - Posted Aug 1, 2016
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Seattle start-up KITT.ai, developers of hotword detection, semantic parsing, natural language understanding, and conversational engine technologies, recently launched a software development kit called Snowboy to help developers add voice activation to almost any mobile device for free.

Snowboy uses verbal hotword detection, the same technology that Amazon and Apple use for products like Alexa and Siri to wake up or command their mobile devices. Like them, Snowboy uses deep neural network technology that learns and recognizes unique patterns in voices to improve recognition and accuracy over time.

The always-on hotword detection engine runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. No Internet connection is needed to detect users’ trigger words.

While the SDK is free to use, KITT.ai plans to monetize the platform by charging enterprise customers a fee for use of the products developed on the platform.

KITT.ai previously developed a technology it called Semantic Lighting, enabling people to interact with smart home lighting systems like the Philips Hue using natural language commands. Its other product is NLU/ChatFlow, a chatbot that uses natural language understanding and a conversation engine built with a simple drag-and-drop interface to power multiplatform agents.

KITT.ai was founded by natural language experts Xuchen Yao, GuoGuo Chen (who helped developed the OK Google hotword detection technology), and Kenji Sagae.

So far, the company doesn’t seem interested in building a talking car.

[Editor’s Note: For those of you too young to remember, KITT (the Knight Industries Two Thousand) was also the name of Michael Knight’s powerful talking car in the 1980s TV show Knight Rider. A remake of the show, featuring the next-generation Knight Industries Three Thousand, ran for one season, from 2008 to 2009, and was largely a flop.]

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