Josh.AI Launches New Microphone and Central Server for Privacy-Focused Smart Homes
Josh.ai introduced new additions to its smart home voice automation ecosystem during its virtual keynote presentation on Tuesday. The Josh Nano microphone and Josh Core server open up new possibilities for the company’s platform, which it bills as a more privacy-focused option compared to the major tech companies.
To show off the new devices, Josh.ai hosted a virtual keynote event at an $80 million house in Los Angeles full of devices from Sonos, Lutron, and other Josh.ai partners that can take advantage of everything the smart home system can do by voice and with the Josh.ai iOS app. The app can even support the management of multiple properties set up with Josh devices. At the same time, the demonstration showed how discreetly Josh.ai can operate.
“You know in the last five years or so voice control technology has come so far,” Josh.ai CEO Alex Capecelatro said during the presentation. “We’re seeing the biggest tech companies in the world launching great voice products, but you know they’re actually getting bigger, not smaller. They’re including speakers and screens and all sorts of things and we really think the holy grail for the smart home is to make things invisible.”
Homeowners with Josh.ai have interacted with the Josh voice assistant using the Josh Micro smart speakers since 2017 when the company transitioned from just focusing on software to developing hardware. The Josh Nano extends the minimalist look of Josh’s devices even further, packing four microphones, a privacy switch, a touch sensor, a temperature sensor, and an LED light ring into something only 0.1 inches thick and 1.6 inches across. The Nano includes a paintable cover that makes the product almost invisible unless you know where to look. The result makes it seem like the user is talking to the house itself, rather than a smart speaker. Operating lights and other smart home devices can be an entirely silent process unless the voice assistant needs to respond to the user.
Josh Core Central
Centralizing the smart home’s operation is the new Josh Core, a central server that runs the home without needing to send any data to the cloud. The idea is to maintain the user’s privacy as much as possible by connecting the Core to the home’s audio system and any related devices. The Core can connect with and support more than 100 microphones and uses its own natural language understanding engine to parse context, enabling it to run multiple commands from a single request.
“So, having this sort of power now the centralized processor in your home brings a lot of benefits, one of which is speed,” Josh.ai head of business development Nader Dajani said during the keynote. “Josh Core can actually process millions of voice commands and it can control your devices on-demand and it can execute everything within a second. One of the really great things about Josh Core is that it has the power to process multiple commands from multiple places all at the same time.”
The Josh ecosystem is set up to bring the devices manufactured by its partners under the umbrella of its VoiceCast protocol, but a user may own smart devices from a different brand. To compensate, Josh also announced a new VoiceLink feature as part of JoshCore. The server includes two audio line outlets that can be connected by wires to any device. When hooked up correctly, Josh can accept voice commands to operate those devices, while still maintaining the cloud-free privacy of the system as a whole. As the kind of homes with Josh.ai tend to be large enough for plenty of guests, Josh also offers a way to let visitors use the voice assistant without compromising that privacy. The owner can use the app to invite and manage visitor access. They can pick out specific rooms or areas that each guest is allowed to control from the app on their own phone, downloaded by invite from the homeowner. That’s not a common option with smart home devices. Google Assistant only recently added a guest mode that lets users operate the voice assistant incognito, and that doesn’t include personalized smart home controls.
“Between Josh Nano and Josh Core I think we’re not just going to change the industry i think we’re going to change the entire smart home,” Capecelatro said. “I’m really excited about this.”