Will.i.am's Startup Raises $117 Million and Unveils New AI-Powered Voice Assistant

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for i.am angel foundation
Host will.i.am attend will.i.am's i.am.angel Foundation TRANS4M 2016 Gala at Milk Studios on Feb. 11, 2016 in Hollywood, Calif.

Will.i.am's tech startup, I.am+, announced on Monday it is entering the world of artificial intelligence with a new voice assistant for powering customer service bots. Called "Omega," and described as similar to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, the AI-powered tool marks a departure for the 5-year-old company, which has primarily focused on consumer products like wireless headphones.

The launch was accompanied by the revelation that I.am+ has raised $117 million in venture funding, with the bulk -- $89 million -- raised by Salesforce Ventures in a round that closed in March but was never announced.

Will.i.am, who introduced Omega at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, told Reuters that the corporate community was ready for a new AI-powered voice assistant. "I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things," he said. "There’s so much you can do with a voice platform."

i.am+'s website describes Omega as a "voice-first A.I. platform that delivers natural and engaging user experiences for organizations of any size." It promises to make "voice, text, and rich customer experiences accessible whenever and wherever your customers are and via the best interaction model for each customer’s needs." It's being positioned as highly customizable with a "series of pluggable modules" that can give Omega "personality" and "opinions."

Watch Omega in action as it helps a businesswoman organize data, send emails and set up meetings via voice commands:

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