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iPad Gaming Company Osmo Nabs Google Artificial Intelligence Manager as COO

Srikanth Rajagopalan, the product manager for machine intelligence at Google, is joining the educational gaming startup.

Eric Johnson for Re/code

Osmo, the tablet game company for kids started by two ex-Googlers, is adding another to its ranks: Srikanth Rajagopalan, the product manager for machine intelligence at Google, is joining as Osmo’s chief operating officer.

Last year, Osmo released its first product, an educational iPad accessory: A plastic stand and clip-on mirror that points the tablet’s camera downward. That makes possible games like Osmo Words, which challenges players to quickly spell out words with physical tiles based on clues given on the iPad screen.

Osmo’s pitch to schools and parents is that the combination of digital and physical games is greater than the sum of its parts.

Rajagopalan once worked with Osmo CEO Pramod Sharma on one of Google’s first forays into bridging the physical and digital worlds: Google Books, the project to scan printed materials and render them searchable.

Srikanth Rajagopalan, chief operating officer, Osmo
Srikanth Rajagopalan, chief operating officer, Osmo

Rajagopalan joined Google in 2005, a year after the initiative’s launch. After Books, he moved to multiple cloud and mobile projects, including a stint as the product manager for the Chrome browser on mobile, where he worked with Osmo’s other founder, Jérôme Scholler. He joined the machine intelligence team in January — the group, which sits under Research, aims to bring Google’s cache of artificial intelligence work to different products and applications. He reported to VP of Engineering Anna Patterson, but his tenure was short, clipped by the offer from Osmo to deploy artificial intelligence tools with his former colleagues at a lean startup.

“When they called, it was a quick conversation,” Rajagopalan said in an interview with Re/code. “It’s a very tangible and real manifestation of what AI will look like in the future.”

Osmo is another young company moving more aggressively into AI, which is witnessing a rush of interest and cash. Unsurprisingly, when these startups look for experience in the field, they turn to Google.

Osmo currently sells its games in more than 100 retail outlets, including Apple Stores, in nine different countries.

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