Making Conversation Easier

Summer 2016

KITT.AI, a new Seattle-based artificial intelligence startup whose founders include two Whiting School alumni, has landed funding from Founders’ Co-Op, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, and Madrona Venture Group.

The company’s mission: to make natural language understanding—conversational interactions with nonhuman intelligences—easily accessible to nonexpert developers.

Company co-founders include Guoguo Chen, MS ’13, PhD ’16, an expert in deep learning and speech recognition and creator of the “OK Google” hotword detection prototype for Android, and Xuchen Yao, PhD ’14, an expert in natural language processing who was formerly an entrepreneur in residence at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a Seattle-based artificial intelligence research institute. The third co-founder is Kenji Sagae, is a past professor of natural language processing at USC and an expert in natural language parsing and dialogue systems.

KITT released its first developer-facing product this spring—a customizable hotword detection engine ( A second product, a conversational understanding service, will follow this summer.

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