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‘Minority Report’ made real: This Annapolis startup is taking Alexa to the next level

Daptly Display adds gesture control and facial recognition to Amazon's voice-controlled assistant.

The Daptly Display. (Courtesy photo)

Amazon’s Alexa can answer questions and helm the controls, and skills are still being added. But KC Beard and Max Randall believe the next wave is in what she can show you.
As the technology develops, Beard said, “It’s going to be able to do more. It’s not just going to be something you talk to and it talks back.”
The Annapolis-based cofounders are rolling out a new digital assistant product called the Daptly Display that adds new features around the voice control assistant.
Beard and Randall developed the idea while attending Dartmouth College together. The viability further crystallized when Beard brought his mother an Alexa, but she didn’t know what to say to it.
As the name suggests, the digital assistant has a 23-inch display that can pull up the information that’s requested from Alexa. For those who aren’t yet Alexa savvy, the display “can show the commands you may need to interact with it,” said Beard, who worked at aplus.com, the media startup cofounded by Ashton Kutcher.
Beard and Randall also see future commands being issued by a method other than voice, so they also developed gesture control. Adding to the Minority Report feel, it also has facial recognition, so it knows who is in front of it.
To fit in with the furnishings, the Daptly Display will be available as a mirror or picture frame.

The Daptly Display. (Courtesy photo) Display (courtesy photo)

The Daptly Display. (Courtesy photo)


Amazon has been encouraging development around Alexa, and Daptly secured a marketing approval from the company to use Alexa. They’re aware that others — including Amazon — may add a display, but believe the added features such as gesture and facial recognition will still set it apart.
“With gesture,” Beard said, Daptly is “creating an entirely new interface that no one has figured out yet.”
On Thursday, the startup opened up preorders on its website. They start at $599, which is $200 less than it will be priced for retail. Beard and Randall said they considered launching preorders through a Kickstarter campaign, but wanted to keep it “no money down.”
“We felt it was best for us and for our customers to not charge them until the product ships,” he said.

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