River+Wolf reviews

Review: 5 Star A.I. Names

In May the world is bursting into bloom and the same can be said for  Artificial Intelligence—from startups to conferences, patents, and research papers, the industry is fast becoming the super bloom of the tech landscape.  And while A.I has made attempts at brand naming, the results are mixed, at best. So if you’re a founder, a marketing executive, or an investor in need of an A.I. brand name, the 12 examples featured here, which range from the allusive Rainbird to the wordplay of OpenAI, might open up some creative pathways.

Rainbird

Rainbirds are any of various birds (especially of the family Cuculidae) whose cries are often believed to forecast rain. The forecasting concept translates well to AI. Rainbird is also unique in that, unlike a lot of AI names that try to sound futuristic, it transports us to a lush natural world full of bright birds flashing between the trees.

Tip: When everyone is going in one direction with names, be bold and buck the trend. Or as brand expert Marty Neumeier says, “When everybody zigs, zag.”  

Citibeats

Citibeats is an AI Text Analytics Platform that identifies insights and trends through structuring, analyzing, and synthesizing people’s opinions from large quantities of text data sources. The name draws its inspiration from “beat reporting”, a genre of specialized journalism that focuses on in-depth reporting of a particular issue or industry over time.

Tip: When developing names for one industry, explore the terminology of other industries. Mining the linguistic soil of different industries can, more often than not, lead to naming gold.

Endor

Endor’s intuitive platform make it possible for business users to ask predictive questions and receive answers that anticipate the evolving needs of customers. Long associated with magical powers, Endor, derived from the Witch of Endor–a mythic figure found in the Hebrew Bible–is a fitting name, especially as Saul, in need of battle advice, requests her to summon up the spirit of the prophet of Samuel.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to draw from biblical stories and legends—these metaphorical narratives are bursting with super cool characters and images. If you do go this route, however, be sensitive–probably best not to name a life jacket Jesus.

Vicarious

Vicarious is developing artificial general intelligence for robots. By combining insights from generative probabilistic models and systems neuroscience, Vicarious robots adapt more readily, and generalizes more broadly than most of the robotics in use today. The oldest meaning of “vicarious,” which derives from the Latin vicis, means change, alternation, or stead. In other words, one that takes the place of another. And what a great name for a robot producing company.

Tip: Although they can be challenging to clear in trademark, a simple, single-dictionary word, especially if it is a bit unusual, can be an excellent choice for a brand name.

Snips

Snips is the largest community of makers and developers building AI powered voice technology that allows anyone to build a powerful voice assistant into their product or device. Rather than following the by now well-trod route of female named voice assisted technology, Snips goes another way—suggesting a small bit of something.

The name also themes to programming, as a snippet is a term for a small region of re-usable source code, machine code, or text.

Tip: Words with more than one meaning can lead to rich storytelling. Also, when truncating a word, make sure it isn’t just lazy naming but actually contributes to the meaning.

DontGo

DontGo—a patented technology that reinvents Chat by utilizing AI to solve how companies convert their web visitors into customers—is a great phrasal name as it immediately cues to the whole point of the technology—getting visitors to stay long enough to become customers.

Tip: Short phrasal names like StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and DontGo are easy to say and remember. Don’t be afraid of using them, though bear in mind they may not always translate well into other languages and cultures.

IBM Watson

IBM Watson is a bit of a shapeshifter—it can take on a whole lot of roles from dress designer and chef to movie director and winner of Jeopardy!  And IBM Watson doesn’t stop there. It can also help with roadside assistance, business messaging, healthcare, and education, to mention a few.

And while Watson was named after Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM,  it also alludes to Dr. Watson—the astute friend and assistant to the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional world inspired another name too in the AI world.

Tip: Literature is a great source of character names. But don’t just look at the heroes or main characters. Naming gold can also be found in the supporting cast of characters.

Darktrace

Darktrace’s technology protects corporate networks, cloud and virtualized environments, IoT and industrial control systems by autonomously detecting and fighting back against the emerging cyber-threats roiling our world.

Dark gets at things hidden and invisible, while the rich, multi-layered word “trace” suggests those threats will be tracked down, even if the clues are scant. The name also makes great use of assonance, a literary device that creates memorable music through repeated vowels.

Tip: When combining two words, make sure they each introduce a new element to the name. And it can be especially sticky if one of those words is a verb—like trace or the “cycle” in SoulCycle.

Soundhound

There’s nothing like hard rhyme to create a sticky name. Soundhound, an audio and speech recognition company, develops voice-recognition, natural language understanding, and sound-recognition search technologies. Pairing the word “sound” with “hound”—a kind of dog that excels not only at smell, but also hearing—makes this an ideal match up.

Tip: Hard rhyme can make for a name that sticks but use it judiciously—the words should not be random but contribute to the overall meaning of the name. 

OpenAI

OpenAI is a nonprofit research company with a mission to create safe artificial general intelligence (AGI). With a focus on long-term research and transparency, OpenAI hopes to advance AGI safely and responsibly.

By fusing the word “Open” with “AI”, the name sounds like Open Eye and, as such gets at transparency and seeing, as well as suggesting something that surprises and teaches something new—as in an “eye opening experience”.

Tip: Clever wordplay when done artfully can lead to great names; however, when done as a gimmick, it can sound cheap. Too, you will want to be mindful of potential spelling confusions.

Modulate

As much as our look, our voices reflect our emotions, from joy and frustration to humor, surprise, and anger. The sound of every voice is integral to a person. Modulate enables users to match their own vocal timbre, pitch, and volume to an in-game character of their choosing. And while the word “modulate” embraces other kinds of adjustments, it is most commonly associated with the voice.

Tip: A word with multiple layers of meaning or applications is great for a name. But be sure the dominant meaning clearly relates to the purpose, function, or mission of your company or product. If  Modulate, for example, only relates to adjusting behavior, it would be less arresting as a name. 

Oculus360

Oculus360 delves deep into the millions of unaided, authentic conversations stretched across the web, leveraging its findings into actionable insights that turn customer voice into brand advantage. By suggesting a round window, the name evokes the human eye which immediately cues to looking, seeing, and scanning.

Tip: When searching for names, look below the surface. In referencing a special kind of window—in this case a circular opening in the center of a dome or wall often found in Byzantine or Neoclassical architecture–the name for this platform is not only more precise but much more intriguing. 

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