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Microsoft Buys Artificial Intelligence Startup Genee

By Victor Thomson , Aug 23, 2016 03:30 AM EDT
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On Monday, August 22, Microsoft Corp. has announced the acquisition of intelligent scheduling startup Genee, as part of the company's efforts to embed artificial intelligence in its digital experiences.

Microsoft Purchases Startup Genee

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft's Genee acquisition is part of the company's strategy to use artificial intelligence (AI) in order to improve the digital experience of its customers. The purchasing of the startup company and its app Genee will be used by Microsoft mainly for enhancing the intelligent capabilities of its Office apps suite.

At the moment the details of the acquisition are not known, as the deal's terms were not yet disclosed. The vice president of Microsoft's Outlook and Office 365 business, Rajesh Jha, explained in a blog post that Genee is a startup that provided a virtual assistant for scheduling appointments and the acquisition will help building new Office 365 productivity services and capabilities.

Genee Virtual Assistant

Genne has been launched in the year 2014 by Charles Lee and Ben Chueng. Following the acquisition by Microsoft, both co-founders of Genee will join Microsoft.  Genee's virtual personal assistant app uses chat bots, optimized decision-making algorithm and natural language processing to automatically schedule meetings among groups or individuals.

Last year, Genee has been able to raise $1.45 million in a funding round that included Streamlined Ventures, Aspiration Growth and other investors. Genee virtual assistant is powered by AI, similar to Microsoft's own virtual assistant, Cortana.

In terms of virtual assistant apps, Cortana competes with Apple Inc.'s Siri and Alphabet's Google Now. According to tech experts, Genee could be used to enhance Cortana.

Cortana can set reminders based on location and track packages by reading users' emails. According to PCWorld, Genee might be used to enhance Cortana's own AI capabilities. By recognizing key phrases in emails, with Genee's integration, Cortana would also become able to automatically set up business meetings.

Siri and Google Now can already to coordinate meetings on command by interacting with calendars. Especially in email exchanges, scheduling meetings is among the possible workplace applications for smart tools that are able to interpret natural human language. Other possible applications might include ordering lunch or automatically making travel arrangements.

In June, Microsoft acquired Wand Labs, a startup that has created its own smart messaging app. Wand Labs team has joined Microsoft's Bing engineering and platform team in order to develop chat bots and intelligent agents.

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