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Have $14,000 to spend? The Josh.ai smart home system may be for you

Think $180 is a hefty sum to pay for a smart home system in the form of the Amazon Echo? Try $14,000 for Josh.ai. The connected home platform boasts a number of impressive attributes — chiefly, artificial intelligence — but it’s got the price tag to match. But don’t worry — you probably won’t have the opportunity to buy it anyway.

A product of startup JStar, Josh.ai is the flagship offering from co-founders Alex Capecelatro, whose claim to fame includes starting the social-networking app Yeti, and Tim Gill, otherwise known as founder of Quark, the graphic design company. So what makes Josh.ai worth the money? As the founders tell it, this is unlike any AI system you’ve interacted with at home before.

Speaking at the CEDIA Business Xchange, Capecelatro called the Echo a “cute little toy,” but nothing compared to the capabilities of Jstar’s new product. Rather than the trademark Amazon cylinder, Josh.ai takes form in a box that can process and understand natural language. That means that you won’t have to preface your commands by saying, “Alexa, [insert request here].” Instead, you’ll be able to directly talk to Josh, saying, “Open the garage door,” or “Turn on the bathroom lights,” or “Play season two, episode 8 of Veep.” You can even combine commands so that Josh takes care of multiple tasks at once.

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When discussing the conception of Josh.ai with PC Magazine earlier this year, Capecelatro spoke to the disjunction that currently exists between a number of “connected” home devices. “Right now,” he said, “you’d either have to spend hundreds of thousands on a custom integrated system to connect them together, or you’d have 20 different apps to manage them. We thought there was a better way. What if you could just talk to your house?”

And with Josh, you kind of can. Eventually, the team says, “The dream is to have embedded microphones throughout the home,” but for the time being, Gill and Capecelatro are homing in on the AI’s near-field chat abilities.

If you’re looking to buy one of these $14,000 systems this year, you’ll have to act fast. Only 100 customers will be able to claim that privilege (because exclusivity makes everything so much more desirable). So get in line, friends. Expensive home systems just may be the next hottest thing.