As the market for smart homes continues to grow around the world, the need for voice assistants is rapidly increasing. Tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Xiaomi already offer their own respective AI voice assistants. However, while renowned tech companies send customer data to the cloud to improve machine-learning quality, they also take away customer privacy and expose them to personal data abuse.
To ensure that customer data is not compromised or shared with other parties, Snips, a French AI startup, introduced the first voice assistant platform, named Snips AIR, which offers privacy along with its smart capabilities. The decentralized, private-by-design technology, serves as an alternative to Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. The company expects the platform to be available for sale by the end of 2019. Snips AIR processes all the data on-device instead of storing it in the cloud, guaranteeing that whatever happens within the family stays within the family.
“Existing voice assistants represent everything that is wrong with the internet today: centralization of personal data, deprivation of privacy, and exploitation of users and developers. Snips AIR…will offer a real alternative to families who care about protecting their privacy,” says Co-Founder and CEO, Rand Hindi, in a press release. Hindi is a Forbes “30 under 30” entrepreneur and was nominated as TR35 by MIT Technology Review.
Snips envisions embedding an AI assistant into every connected home device to “make technology disappear” into the background. In an interview with BlockTelegraph, Hindi stated, “What I think we really need right now are consumer products built on top of blockchain, where people using them don’t have to care about blockchain.” The firm launched a platform last summer, and since then, over 14,000 developers on the platform have created over 24,000 voice assistants. The company has raised €22 million ($25.5 million) via funding from various investors, such as BPI France Korelya Capital, Eniac Ventures, and MAIF Avenir.
Smart Home Ecosystem
The software company wants to establish a decentralized platform to give control of data to customers by solving AIR Network blockchain and Edge computing, a practice of processing data where it is being generated. Snips AIR processes all the data on-device within the wall of the smart homes, eliminating the need for sending the data to a cloud back-end. Therefore, no entity has information about its customers, protecting them against hacking and mass surveillance.
Snips AIR will be rolled out with various built-in apps for day-to-day cases, like calendars, cooking, date/time, home automation for controlling windows, thermostats and lights, multimedia, reminders, and weather. Additional apps will be created by developers for Snips AIRir users and will be published on Snips’ decentralized app store. OEM will be able to integrate their products into Snips AIR and gain benefits from the Snips voice ecosystem, including the AIR blockchain, app store, and developer community, all of them protecting their personal data.
With AIR blockchain, customers will be paid for providing their encrypted voice data to a machine-learning model that is trained through a decentralized “clerks” network. App developers then aggregate the processed data and maintain new machine learning models with encrypted customer data. Since the AI is trained on the blockchain via encrypted federated learning, developers can use the customer data to create new apps and publish them on the Snips AIR platform, while customers never require exposing their personal data.
The developer community can take advantage of the platform without being concerned regarding censorship, as the Snips app store operates as a token-curated marketplace. This ensures that developers can create whatever they like, something they cannot do under centralized assistants. The developers have the liberty to decide and manage what goes into the app store, avoiding the centralized censorship issues often observe in mobile app stores and ensuring that only premium apps are provided to customers.