Amazon Alexa Fund Invests in Neural Technology

The Amazon Alexa Fund has invested in CTRL-labs, a startup that developers “non-invasive neural interface technology” that would allow people to control connected devices using their brain signals. In the third funding round led by Google Ventures, CTRL-labs raised $28 million from Lux Capital, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Breyer Capital, Fuel Capital, and the Alexa Fund, bringing their total funding to $67 million. Neurotech devices in general are experiencing huge growth as a projected $7.6 billion dollar market that could reach $12 billion by 2020.

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The CTRL-kit

With the $28 million, CTRL-labs plans to finance the building and distribution of its CTRL-kit, a “wireless non-invasive electromyography device that translates neural signals into control.” Using the CTRL-kit, developers can begin to integrate neural control into applications, meaning that machines will be a “natural extension of thought and movement”. In addition to the CTRL-kit, the funding will be used to grow the company’s research and development office in San Francisco and support developing commercial partnerships with companies like Amazon.

Amazon consistently expands the realms and capabilities of Alexa. Last fall, they invested $6.7 million in Plant Prefab, a company that makes customized prefabricated homes. With the funding, Plant Prefab can integrate Alexa into the construction of their homes, allowing users to remotely control and use voice commands for their doorbells, locks, lights, and any other connected devices.

Aside from investing in start-ups with the Alexa Fund, Alexa is also seen as the voice assistant with the most marketing potential for small businesses. When asked which voice assistant has the most marketing potential, 48% of the small business marketers surveyed chose Alexa, according to a study from Uberall. As three-quarters of the survey’s respondents believed that voice marketing is valuable, Alexa stands to gain even more commercial business. Whether it’s neural technology, home construction, or small business marketing, Alexa’s potential uses in both home and commercial spheres are just getting started.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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