He may be known to most people as being an influential pop star and entrepreneur, but this year Will.i.am turns his focus away from the tunes and onto the emerging market of artificial intelligence (AI) instead through his own tech startup, I.am+. Having raised a whopping $117 million in venture funding, William James Adams, aka Will.i.am, is ready to take on the AI competition with a little help from his new AI-powered voice assistant called Omega.
The company was first founded back in 2012 and now employs around 300 members of staff. It originally specialised in consumer electronic devices such as wireless headphones. Five years later, and the company’s getting ready to release its AI voice assistant, similar to that of Amazon’s Alexa and Amazon’s Siri. Earlier this year the company received $89 million in a funding round that included the likes of Salesforce Ventures as investors yet was never announced until now.
I.am+’s website describes Omega as a “voice-first AI platform that delivers natural and engaging user experiences for organizations of any size.” And while Will.i.am may have made his millions in the music industry, he has a passion for AI that he just can’t help exploring. “I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things,” said founder and chief executive of the business, Will.i.am. “There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”
Many celebrities, athletes, and superstars have found themselves getting heavily involved in AI either through their own startup or as an investment in another startup including Joe Montana, Ashton Kutcher, and Jessica Alba. However, most of theirs are focused on consumer technology. The first major enterprise contract for I.am+ comes from German telecommunications giant and parent company of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom AG. For the past four months the company has been powering AI customer support chatbots using Omega. It’s also looking to implement a voice phone system shortly, said i.am+.
Customer support is just the beginning for the Omega AI system and already Will.i.am is planning to build further voice products using the technology. “One of those things is handling hundreds of thousands of customers’ inquiries about their data plans simultaneously,” said Will.i.am. “If it can do that, your imagination’s the limit.”