Talking the talk: the voice-recognition disruptors looking to outsmart big tech

voice recognition

(Rahul Chakraborty, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Candace Widdoes, Chief Operating Officer, Plug and Play & Joe Abi Akl, Acting chief corporate development officer, Majid Al Futtaim Holding


As investors, we are constantly on the search to find and propel early-stage companies redefining the technology landscape. Among them are the current breed of start-ups implementing voice technology to improve how we live, both at work and at home.

In his book, The Third Wave, Steve Case observes three generations of technology development. He describes the first wave as being when the internet became commercially available, while the second yielded the arrival of social media as major players such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon took their foothold as the most valuable companies in the world. Now we find ourselves in the third wave, in which the internet is becoming as ubiquitous as electricity throughout the world, digitally transforming every industry.

Given the dominance of the aforementioned second-generation companies in the consumer market, large enterprises in every industry from retail to healthcare are heavily investing in technologies that will help them remain competitive in both B2B and B2C environments. In the consumer market, this transformation has been largely driven by convenience and the unprecedented rise of the on-demand economy. In this new landscape, the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, Netflix, Spotify and Airbnb have taken a lead, offering convenience that conventional businesses have been unable to match.

Confronted by these challenges, I.AM+, led by founder and CEO Will.I.am, envisioned a solution by leveraging both the demand for convenience and the growth of voice activation through a conversational AI platform, Omega. The personal assistant enables users to fulfil their daily productivity and entertainment needs from a single interface that can integrate a variety of everyday apps, including email, calendar, retail, travel, food delivery and more. This “super app” has the potential to revolutionise consumer convenience, encouraging brand choice, while saving money and most importantly, time.

While it’s great for consumers, it’s good for business, too. With a strong focus on helping independent retailers and enterprises, its platform-neutral operating system enables retailers like Majid Al Futtaim to embed the technology within its ecosystem of brands, retaining the relationship with the customer.

Within the automotive industry, OEMs are developing their own voice assistants. Take, for example, Daimler’s engagement and heavy investment in SoundHound, a voice- and sound recognition-platform aiming to be an industry standard in automotive. Automotive suppliers like Faurecia, a leading interiors provider, are taking a more neutral approach, believing that consumers will prefer to enjoy the same experience in the car as they enjoy at home with Alexa, Google Home, or Baidu in China. “Our technology enables the integration of these third-party virtual personal assistants (VPAs) in a way that allows you to use not only the common Alexa features in your car, but also control your vehicle, your navigation, and other car-related services through Alexa,” says Dr. Alexander van Laack, consumer intelligence director at Faurecia.

The benefits are also evident in industrial operations. Mark Fosdike, CEO of Datch Systems, an intelligent voice interface for industry, and his co-founders are working to bring the cutting-edge experience of consumer devices to the heavy industrial environment. Fosdike recalls, “We were starting to get frustrated in our jobs because of the inefficiencies that we found in the general industrial software.” At night, they’d go home and wonder why the consumer device experience was so much better than the software experience at work.

His team spent a lot of time building unmanned aerial vehicles and doing IoT projects, so initially he thought he could build an IoT consolidation solution for the factory that would extract information. After touring and interviewing leaders at over 40 factories, he quickly learned that getting data into systems was the major problem.

It can take a factory worker 10-15% of his day to input data, and working with mobile devices is difficult when you have greasy fingers. Fosdike quickly came to the conclusion that voice was the best input option. Factory maintenance is only the beginning; data entry is a huge issue in every major industry, from mining to healthcare and aerospace where productivity efficiency is incredibly important. Voice represents a 4x improvement in speed compared with typing/writing, and combined with natural language processing (NLP), it can be upwards of 10x faster.

Voice in industry is about increasing productivity and extracting critical information during downtime, which can cost a company up to $50,000 per hour in lost output. If the machine can capture data inputs from every person interacting with the machine, it can diagnose or even prevent failures much more effectively.

There are still many challenges in the consumer market as well. Aigo.ai, a highly intelligent and hyper-personalized natural language intelligence platform, is working to dramatically improve the user experience for the enterprise and consumers. Srini Pagidyala, co-founder and chief value officer, says: “If you say, ‘Hey Siri, don’t tell me the weather’, it will tell you the weather. That’s the level of intelligence chatbots have achieved after nine years and billions of dollars in investment. Chatbots don’t remember what you said two sentences back, much less two days or two weeks back. They cannot learn new information interactively, they don’t understand context or complex sentences, they cannot reason or manage an ongoing meaningful conversation. The pattern-matching approach isn’t the right approach for natural language interaction.”

Aigo.ai is taking a different approach by implementing a “cognitive architeture” method fueled by a team of psychologists and linguists building a platform that is contextually aware rather than keyword-based. “Aigo’s ability to learn interactively and adapt to its users’ needs makes it much stickier,” said Pagidyala.

Similar to Datch Systems, Aigo.ai is pursuing the enterprise market (B2B and B2B2C) because it’s a more defined space, and seemed to be much easier than the consumer one, currently dominated by Amazon, Google and Apple.

What about data privacy? Pagidyala believes that data privacy is becoming mainstream and that consumers will pay for a private digital assistant. “We believe in the philosophy that your data, is your property, if someone shares it for profit, we believe they should share profits with the owner of the data, i.e., you. We are not in the data business, but we provide an assistant that serves you.”

In truth, this is new territory that has not fully been defined. There are still many unanswered questions as to what operators can do with the data harnessed from new inputs like voice. As with all new technologies, innovators must explore new territory and tackle challenges as they arise. It is the only way to progress forward.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

Summer pause gives time to rethink Eurozone’s problems

UN and partners appeal for $920 million to meet ‘dire needs’ of Rohingya refugees

Future fit: 3 ways fashion can be more sustainable

Better ID card security to curb document fraud

Monday’s Daily Brief: biodiversity and forests, labour and road safety, women’s rights, and fallen UN staff remembered

The European Parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg (Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro)

EU Parliament sends controversial copyright law reform back to discussion

Industrial products: Lifting the last impediments in the EU single market

EU and New Zealand launch trade negotiations

Four major resources for new European young entrepreneurs

Digital development: technology-enabled, but human-centric

This is what the gender pay gap looks like in eight countries

The Stray

Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

Global Talent – Professional Internships

It’s just electronic cigarette, don’t worry?

What next for Europe? Three (completely) different Davos views

UN chief welcomes re-opening of key Gaza border crossing

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

Japan should reform retirement policies to meet challenge of ageing workforce

Facts and prejudices about work

“No labels for entrepreneurs!”, a young business leader from Italy cries out

Electronic Cigarettes: Are they really as safe as we think?

TTIP’s 11th round major takeaways and the usual “leaked” document

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

UN rights chief slams ‘unconscionable’ US border policy of separating migrant children from parents

Why this city is paying people to move there

The remote doctor, can it ever work?

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

These are the fastest trains in the world

1 in 4 Africans had to pay a bribe to access public services last year

Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on the table of NATO Defense Ministers amid US concerns

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

3 things to know about India’s space programme

Rising insecurity in Central Africa Republic threatens wider region, Security Council told

EU and Australia launch talks for a broad trade agreement

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris is the moment for climate justice”, Swedish MEP Linnéa Engström claims from Brussels

Parliament toughens its position on banking union

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Central banking in times of complexity

Climate change: ‘A moral, ethical and economic imperative’ to slow global warming say UN leaders, calling for more action

Draghi’s 2018 compromise: enough money printing to revive inflation and check euro ascent

Nordic noir: The unhappiness epidemic affecting young people in the world’s happiest countries

Trump blocks US warmongers from bombing Iran

Trump ostracized by his party and world elites but still remains in course; how can he do it?

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for smaller businesses to get financing through capital markets

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

Afghanistan: UN ‘unequivocally condemns’ attack in Kabul

MEPs criticise “America first” policy

An economist explains why women are paid less

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature

Job vacancy data reveal better prospects for Britain, stagnation in Eurozone

Commission adopts €4 billion investment package for infrastructure projects across 10 Member States

EU fundamental rights under threat in several member states

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s