Universal Electronics and Microsoft Collaborate on a Turnkey Digital Assistant Platform for Smart Home Hub

January 4 2019, 00:15
Universal Electronics (UEI), a company specializing in universal control and sensing technologies for the smart home, announced a collaboration with Microsoft to launch a new digital assistant platform for the home built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform using AI and IoT services. The UEI’s Nevo Butler turnkey smart home hub with nevo.ai built-in digital assistant will be launched at CES 2019 and will be available as a white-label solution for other manufacturers.

According to the company's announcement, "Artificial intelligence is now playing a key role in improving access to smart living products and services, and this is only expected to expand in size and scope. Digital assistants that connect consumers to important services such as safety and security, collaboration and scheduling or bring joy through better interaction with entertainment devices, will play a key role in delivering the experiences promised by a brand."

In order to empower brands to deliver these experiences quickly, efficiently, and directly to consumers, Universal Electronics and Microsoft have collaborated to offer a white-label smart home hub platform, named Nevo Butler, with an integrated digital assistant.

Nevo Butler is an end-to-end voice-enabled smart home hub with nevo.ai integrated and built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform leveraging Azure IoT and AI services, including Microsoft’s virtual assistant solution with Azure Bot Service and Azure Cognitive Services. Available as kits that address specific channel needs, Nevo Butler can be bundled with a range of certified devices including Ecolink sensors, offering safety and security, energy management and hospitality applications, in addition to voice-enabled universal entertainment control.

"Nevo.ai is a white-label digital assistant that promises to unify the entertainment control and home automation experiences, enabling interoperability across fragmented ecosystems. Built-in entertainment control capabilities and smart home hub features powered by QuickSet Cloud make this device one of the most versatile assistants for the home, capable of addressing a wide range of devices and use cases from enabling voice on existing devices, to innovative new services in the smart home. With a customizable digital assistant experience, enterprise integration services, and an expanding ecosystem of add-on services, this platform allows service providers and consumer electronics brands to offer voice-enabled services to consumers while remaining in control of the consumer relationship," the announcement states.

QuickSet Cloud, running on the Azure IoT platform, is already powering millions of connected devices in the home, implemented in solutions from Comcast, Sony, LGI, Samsung and others, and will benefit from the global-scale and security of Azure. The nevo.ai digital assistant development is accelerated by the Azure virtual assistant solution where complex and evolving features can be delivered through a simple natural language interface, making these experiences accessible to a wide range of audiences.

“With Nevo Butler, we are democratizing access to an essential technology where consumer’s brands and service providers can quickly and efficiently deliver new services across many categories. Our sensors and hubs are pre-integrated with a configurable digital assistant where these brands can remain in charge of the relationship with the end consumer,” says Arsham Hatambeiki, SVP Product and Technology for Universal Electronics Inc. “Microsoft has proven to be a reliable and innovative partner in delivering this flexibility to brands, and choice to consumers.”

“Today and in the future, we assume every home product experience will become frictionless, controlled naturally through conversation and voice, in a personalized and trusted experience,” adds Lili Cheng, CVP, Conversational AI. “By partnering with UEI on Nevo Butler and Quickset Cloud, we will enable UEI customers to create custom Virtual Assistant solutions, for millions of home products, powered by Microsoft’s AI and Azure IoT services.”

Universal Electronics also confirmed that it will be pairing its Nevo Butler digital assistant platform with TrulyHandsfree voice command capabilities as well as customer-branded wake words from Sensory. “Sensory’s voice recognition capabilities provide a reliable foundation to build new digital experiences in the home that consumers will trust and use on a daily basis,” states Hatambeiki.

UEI and Sensory will provide the ability to create custom speaker independent wake words for their Nevo Butler-powered smart assistant devices. “TrulyHandsfree was purposefully engineered to offer extremely accurate and noise robust wake word and speech recognition on devices with ultra-low-power configurations to very high-performance components,” says Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory. “TrulyHandsfree’s limitless design flexibility, unrivaled platform support and vast customization options make it is the ideal solution for UEI’s service provider and electronics manufacturing customers that want to create new smart assistant solutions that feature branded wake words and cloud-free voice control.”

Universal Electronics' broad portfolio of patents includes QuickSet Cloud service that utilizes what the company claims to be the "world’s most complete knowledge graph of devices to detect and interact with thousands of entertainment and smart home devices." The company designs, develops, and manufactures products that are used by leading brands in the audio, video, subscription broadcasting, connected home, home energy management, and mobile device markets.

Universal Electronics will host product demonstrations for the new Nevo Butler platform at CES 2019, from January 8-11.
www.uei.com | quicksetcloud.com
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