A London-based startup called Wluper has raised $1.3m in seed funding for its conversational AI system. The round was led by IQ Capital along with Seedcamp, Aster and machine-learning technology company Magic Pony founder Zehan Wang.
Wluper's AI voice assistant system is built on the premise that voice assistants work best when their use is narrower and more target driven as opposed to broad-use AI voice assistants which have gained popularity in recent years. Speaking to TechCrunch, Wluper co-founder Hami Bahraynian said: "When we think of intelligent assistants like Alexa or Siri, the only time you'll believe they're really good is if they understand you properly; most of the time, they simply can't.
"It is not the speech recognition which fails. It is the missing focus and lacking reasoning of these systems, because they all can do a lot of things reasonably well, but nothing perfectly," he added.
In order to achieve its aims, Wluper is building voice assistants for very specific tasks such as navigation, which is what the startup was originally building when it was founded in 2016 with the help of InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover's VC company. This allows the team to make educated assumptions about the types of questions the AI is going to asked and allow it to more naturally respond to queries.
"Even if naturally asked user queries are eventually understood correctly," Bahaynian explains, "extracting and providing relevant and useful information from the right places is even more challenging, and with current mostly ruled-based approaches, ultimately impossible to scale."
Wluper has mentioned that it plans to use the newly acquired funds to expand its R&D capabilities and hire more engineering staff.