SAN FRANCISCO — Lighthouse, an artificial intelligence services start-up with roots in the self-driving car world, wants to do for the home what the DARPA Grand Challenge did for autonomous cars.
The 2-year-old start-up has developed an interactive assistant for the home that, essentially, does the opposite of Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated personal assistant. While Alexa keeps consumers connected to the outside world while they're at home, Lighthouse keeps consumers connected to their homes while they're far away.
The interactive assistant, in the form of a mini-lighthouse, leverages deep learning and 3-D sensing technology developed as part of the DARPA Grand Challenge, the world-renowned competition in which autonomous vehicles navigate an off-road course.
A camera captures the comings and goings at home, displaying highlights over a smartphone screen when asked via voice what happened or didn't happen during the course of a day, says Alex Teichman, CEO and co-founder of Lighthouse. His PhD work at Stanford University led to the invention of technology that lets self-driving cars recognize objects and predict what that object will do next.
Such technology in the home, for instance, lets consumers know when the kids had lunch, whether the handyman showed up and who walked the dog, Teichman says.
The possibilities for the connected home has gained Lighthouse powerful backers in ex-Googlers Andy Rubin and Sebastian Thrun.
"We're just at the beginning where consumers bring deep learning into their lives," says Rubin, whose Playground Studio has invested in and incubates Lighthouse in nearby Palo Alto, Calif. The 30-person Lighthouse has raised $17 million.
"It brings super powers" to the connected home, says Rubin, who once led Google's robotics and automation division.
Thrun, who worked on self-driving cars at Google before co-founding Udacity, an online higher education start-up.
The device and intelligence service comes in three bundles: $399 for one year, $499 for three years, and $599 for five years. Lighthouse is taking pre-orders (www.light.house) for shipping in September.
The appeal of a home-monitoring app, while strong for security reasons, could give others pause because of concerns over privacy and data collection.
Lighthouse officials say their technology is secured by "tamper-proof software, bank-level security and encryption, encrypted logins and passwords, and closed Bluetooth connections after WiFi configuration." Customers' data is only viewable by them, Lighthouse says.
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