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XOWi Launches Kickstarter Campaign for the Voice Badge

The XOWi Personal Voice Companion badge is a small wearable device that lets users engage in pure voice interactions in hands-busy/eyes-busy situations.
Posted Oct 22, 2013
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Newly launched startup XOWi, a McLean, Va.-based wearable technology company that focuses on delivering voice products and solutions, today launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its first product, the XOWi Personal Voice Companion badge.

The XOWi Personal Voice Companion badge is a small wearable device that can be clipped on a collar or worn as a necklace. It is designed to enable users to engage in pure voice interactions in hands-busy/eyes-busy situations by pairing with the user's smartphone via a companion app that runs on the Android, iOS, Microsoft, and BlackBerry mobile platforms. An open application programming interface will enable developers to add functionality and content to XOWi. XOWi will also be pairable with any voice assistant already on the market.

"It's all about the user interface," XOWi co-founder and CEO, Ahmed Bouzid, said in a statement. "A lot of attention and energy are being poured on smartwatches and glasses, but neither takes us away from the visual-tactile centric interface that we have been using since the introduction of the touch smartphone UI about six years ago."

"The smartphone as we know it will continue to play an important role in our lives, but in this new emerging world, we will also need to interact in bursts and quickly, and voice, the interface that is the most natural and least demanding on humans, is going to play a huge role," Bouzid added.

The Kickstarter campaign is launching today and will run for 30 consecutive days, with the goal of raising $100,000. Contributors will be able to pledge $149 or more for a XOWi, with special packages for developers and supporters who want to work closely with the XOWi product team. The XOWi team plans to begin delivery of the first XOWi badges in March 2014.

While the Kickstarter campaign is being launched today, development of the XOWi badge has been underway for several months, and a working prototype has already been built.

"Key to the success of XOWi is performance," Weiye Ma, co-founder and chief technology officer of XOWi, said in a statement. "We have established that the form factor of a wearable badge or necklace is the way to go, and we have already built several modules that enable our software to interact with services such as Twitter, Facebook, traffic, weather, eBay, and more. What we need to ensure beyond that is the speech recognition accuracy and high audibility. And we are on track towards delivering a product that users will fall in love with and embrace as a must-have device in their lives."

Thouggh still in the early stages of development, the XOWi product is already being met with anticipation. Debbie Dahl, principal at speech and language consulting firm Convversational Technologies, calls it "a groundbreaking way to get the benefits of computing while keeping the distractions of operating a user interface to an absolute minimum." This device, she adds, "will be an enormously valuable addition to all of our daily lives."

Bill Scholz, president of the Applied Voice Input/Output Society (AVIOS) adds: "Wearable computing is emerging as a significant new trend in our industry, and XOWi is superbly positioned to take full advantage of the growing enthusiasm in this area."

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