Some names work for voice assistant technology. Some don't.
Just before the HLTH meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, a company working to build a physician voice assistant emerged from stealth. It formally launched with $20 million in Series A funding and a whole new name.
That company is Suki AI, formerly Robin AI, formerly Learning Motors. The most recent name change, Suki Chief Operating Officer Nathan Gunn explained, was due to the nature of voice assist technology.
“It's almost a purely technical issue,” he told Healthcare Analytics News™ during this week’s HLTH meeting. “When you've got a digital assistant, you need to have a wake word that has a high degree of specificity. You don't want the digital system to turn on and start doing stuff until you tell it that you're ready for it.”
Good voice assistant wake words have multiple distinct syllables: “A-lex-a; Cor-ta-na; O-kay Goo-gle,” he demonstrated. The company’s early testing found that “Robin” or similar words were picked up too frequently—at least, more frequently than “Suki,” which prompted the company to rebrand.
“Robin is also a relatively common name—more common, perhaps, than we thought,” he said. He chuckled when asked then, how Amazon can get away with “Alexa?” Their sheer market dominance, he argued, means they don’t have to think of things the way an upstart does.