Liv.Ai makes speech recognition software that allows people to transact in their native languages. Ranju Sarkar reports.
Many customers calling phone banking numbers of a bank hate wading through automated messaging before they can find their way. Soon, however, if you have lost a credit or debit card, you can simply say 'block my card' in your native language and the bank will instantly do this.
Similarly, elderly people find it difficult to type on touchscreen phones to use services like WhatsApp or e-mail. Soon, they could speak in their local language and a software would convert their speech into text.
Enabling these and more is a speech recognition software for Indian languages developed by start-up Liv Artificial Intelligence Pvt Ltd.
"We offer customer care automation software with dialogue systems, speech recognition, and language understanding tailored to generic as well as specific use cases," says Subodh Kumar, co-founder and an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Bangalore.
The core of artificial intelligence is that machines can be as smart as humans and you can work with these.
Speech recognition is one of the most important mediums through which you can communicate with machines, says Kumar, a native of Gaya, Bihar, who founded the start-up about 40 months earlier with two other alumni from IIT-Kharagpur.
"Touch phones are 10-15 years old, but are an unnatural way to communicate. Voice is the most natural way to do so, and voice typing is three times faster than typing on touch phones. This is a right time for a speech innovation start-up," says Kumar.
The market for speech and language-based technology is worth billions of dollars.
Big companies have emerged in this space in the United States (Nuance, $2 billion annual revenue) and in China (iFlyTek; over $500 million revenue)
The product could appeal to banks, any large customer-facing company or makers of consumer devices. The start-up is running experiments with a bank, a large multinational entity, to enable these companies to make intelligent devices.
Liv.Ai has around 200 users, including many early adopters in the language market. For instance, it is being used by Lipikaar, which develops keyboards in multiple regional languages.
Like other SAAS (software as a service) entities, the company makes money through licence fees. Every time a customer uses its technology, the company gets a small fraction as licence fee.
Siri, the intelligent personal assistant app from Apple, uses voice queries and a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of internet services.
Amazon Alexa is a device which talks to you.
The start-up is in the midst of raising an undisclosed amount in funding from Astrac Ventures, according to a media report. As the company is yet to close the deal, Kumar refused to share details or comment on it.