Microsoft announced on Monday that it has acquired an AI startup called Genee for an undisclosed sum.
The startup, founded in 2014, has built a platform that aims to help people manage their busy lives by acting as their virtual assistant and helping them to schedule meetings.
It aims to remove the pain of emailing back and forth to find a time and a place that works for everyone. It is particularly well suited to organising large groups, Microsoft claims.
Founded by Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, (who will now join Microsoft), Genee uses natural language processing and optimised decision-making algorithms to make the virtual assistant as similar to a human assistant as possible.
It looks as though Microsoft plans to use the startup’s technology to improve Microsoft Office 365. Rajesh Jha, corporate VP for Outlook and Office 365, wrote in a blog post announcing the news that he’s “confident the Genee team will help us [Microsoft] further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience.”
He gave the following example of how Genee will work:
“Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant. Genee understands that you want to ‘Find a time to meet with Diana for coffee next week’ and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will even send out the meeting invite on your behalf — freeing up your time. A coffee meeting scheduled in a snap!”
It’s possible that Genee’s technology will be integrated into Cortana, which is Microsoft’s AI-powered personal assistant.
US tech giants including Apple and Amazon are also looking to develop their own personal assistants with Siri and Alexa able to complete an increasing number of tasks for people.