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, 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., 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.” 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, 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.






the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

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

OECD: Rising employment overshadowed by unprecedented wage stagnation

European Youth Forum welcomes strong stance on human rights in State of the Union

No improvement in respect for EU values: MEPs cut support for Turkey by €70m

Online government services could change your life. But only if you have access to the internet

The German automotive industry under the Trump spell

Global ageing is a challenge – and an opportunity

An overview of the Tobacco Control Measures in India: problems and solutions

Fight against climate change and poverty will fail without overhaul of global financial system, says major UN report

Resiliency is the key to strong investments in a chaotic world

US – Russia bargain on Syria, Ukraine but EU kept out

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast: IOM

Nearly $4 billion needed to protect 41 million children from conflict and disaster

Raw materials: Commission launches new online portal to support responsible sourcing in businesses

ECB intervenes to clean May’s and Schäuble’s mess

It’s time to build a responsible media supply chain

$675 million appeal to stop coronavirus in its tracks, as deaths rise

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

We need better alignment between climate and trade. Here’s a roadmap

EU budget for 2019: do more for the young, SMEs and the climate, urge MEPs

A ‘strong and united Europe’ has never been more needed, declares UN chief Guterres

Gaza investigators call on Israel to review ‘rules of engagement’ as Gaza protest anniversary looms

The increasing drug prices in Europe

The hidden risk of virtual reality – and what to do about it

Environment Committee MEPs push for cleaner trucks and electric buses

Getting African Women into the Boardroom

Freshwater is saltier – and it’s bad for the planet and our health

Can the EU really make Google and Facebook pay publishers and media?

Mexico: Helping refugees go into business, a ‘win-win situation’, says UNHCR’s Grandi

Who is to pay the dearest price in a global slowdown?

European Parliament approves new copyright rules for the internet

Hardened creditors drive Greece to dire straits; Tsipras desperate for an agreement

Juncker and Tusk killed Greece on 07 July 2015 to meet the Commission’s summer vacation plan? #Grexit #Greferendum #Graccident

Nearly two million Cameroonians face humanitarian emergency: UNICEF

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

One-sixth of the world’s economy has now pledged to cut CO2 to zero by 2050

Drowning in the Mediterranean this summer? Many happy returns

Smokers who quit one month before surgery reap benefits: UN health agency

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Immigration crisis at its very worst: EU to outsource rescue business to North Africa?

This new initiative aims to make cybercrime harder – and riskier – to commit

Public opinion misled by the Commission on air transport safety

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

Ambassador Zhang Ming: “Work Together for a Better Globalization”

The great challenge of the 21st century is learning to consume less. This is how we can do it

When connectivity is not enough: the key to meaningful digital inclusion

ECOFIN: Protecting bankers and tax-evaders

Partnerships with civil society and youth ‘essential’ for a future that leaves no one behind: General Assembly President

‘Repeated attacks’ could close down key hospital in eastern Libya, says WHO

The world to teach Germans to…un-German

Why the financial scandals multiply?

How green investment will help Latin America and the world fight climate change

Execution of juvenile offender in Iran ‘deeply distressing’ – UN rights chief

It’s a week dedicated to all EU budgets; seven days that can make or break the Union

Drone regulation is necessary to democratize the sky for humanity

Mobile World Congress 2015 first to debate EU’s new stance on Net Neutrality and Roaming Charges

3 ways to make the 2020s the decade we close the gender gap

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Libya ‘war crime’ attack, Sudan, Myanmar rights violations continue, ‘xenophobia’ in Assam, South Sudan update

Brexit: European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU

Iran nuclear talks’ deadline extended: the match is still open for many

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

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

You are commenting using your 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