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.
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.