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Amazon invested in startup low power device company that can help Alexa

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Aspinity, a technology startup that produces a low power chip for always-on sensing, has raised $2.9 million in venture capital funding, the company announced Tuesday morning.

The round brings Strip District-based Aspinity’s total funding to $3.5 million.

Birchmere Ventures in the Strip District led the funding round and additional capital came from North Side-based Riverfront Ventures, Mountain State Capital in Morgantown, W.Va. and Amazon Alexa Fund in Seattle, Wash.

Investment in Aspinity expands Amazon’s local interest in voice and language technology startups. In 2015, Amazon acquired Safaba, a Pittsburgh startup that automated text translation software. That team formed the basis of Amazon’s SouthSide Works office, which now focuses on Amazon Alexa technology and machine translation.

Always-on sensing is a type of functionality that enables internet of things devices to “wake,” while consuming less power. Consider how Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant waits to hear you say “Alexa” before taking any actions.

Aspinity is able to mimic the monitoring traditionally performed by high-power digital processors while using far less energy. Typically, always-on sensing relies on digitizing all sensor data and then conducting event analysis, which wastes time and energy digitizing unnecessary data.

The chip that Aspinity has created instead will only wake the system for digitization when an “event signature” has been detected, the company explained in a press release. In the Amazon example, that’s when you say “Alexa.”

Through this analysis-first approach, the company claims it has reduced processing of non-voice sound by 80 percent, which has led to a 10-time reduction in power consumption.

The company’s ties to Amazon do not begin today, though. In 2017, Amazon brought Aspinity on for its first-ever Alexa Accelerator in Seattle.

“Voice is the most natural, intuitive way for us to interact with technology, and there’s an enormous opportunity for companies helping bring voice-first experiences to portable, low-power devices,” Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, said in a prepared statement.

By: DocMemory
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