ToyTalk, the artificial intelligence toy company founded by ex-Pixar and SRI talent has recieved $11.5M in Series-A funding from Charles Rivers Ventures. The funding round was discovered by Venture Beat and we reached out to ToyTalk who confirmed the round to us as well as the folks involved.
The above figure does not include $500k pro-rata from a seed round of funding that amounted to $4.5M involving True Ventures, First Round Capital, Greylock Partners and a number of angel investors. This brings ToyTalk to $16M in funding total.
ToyTalk was founded by CTO Martin Reddy, formerly of the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI international (the company that spawned Siri) and CEO Oren Jacob, a former Pixar CTO who worked on tech for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Bugs Life and Finding Nemo.
A teaser video just dropped on the ToyTalk site a few days ago that shows a teddy bear chatting with a kid via an iPad.
The app leverages artificial intelligence and speech recognition, along with scripted passages headed up by Chief Creative Officer Bobby Podesta, another ex-Pixarian, who worked in animation and as a story artist on many projects. These elements create an interactive experience that allows kids to insert their own toys into the scenario, interacting with them through the technical magic of the app.
For an interesting tale, check out Oren’s account of how Toy Story 2 was deleted from Pixar’s servers not once, but twice.