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Personal assistant company JStar has raised $11 million in funding for its Amazon Echo-style hardware, Josh.ai. JStar, founded by Alex Capecelatro and Tim Gill, is currently working on the voice-controlled system, which includes hardware designed specifically to sync with smart homes.

Josh.ai has several features that set it apart, including the ability to react to two commands at once, an overarching connection to smart home devices from more than 50 brands, and a male voice by default. It also responds to natural language phrases such as “it’s hot in here” by adjusting the relevant system.

Gill and Capecelatro both built smart homes for themselves, and wanted an automation system that didn’t “cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and … look like it’s from the 90s,” Capecelatro told TechCrunch.

Their solution is not cheap – the version of Josh.ai available right now is sold at about $10,000 by professional smart home integrators, and comes with a Mac mini and iPad along with the software.

In Amazon news, the company is building a service similar to Best Buy’s in-home repair team Geek Squad. Best Buy stock was down on Tuesday after the announcement. Amazon’s version focuses on sending technicians to install and troubleshoot smart home devices such as the Amazon Echo and the Alexa personal assistant. Other associated services include Phillips smart lighting, Honeywell and Ecobee3 smart thermostats, and WiFi setup. For now, the service is only available in select cities in California as well as in Seattle and in Portland, Ore.

Real-Time Digital Reporter
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