Info-tech

Indian start-ups bet on speech recognition tech

Venkatesh Ganesh Bangalore | Updated on November 25, 2017

The global speech analytics market will reach $1.33 billion by 2019 driven largely by corporate adoption, according to industry estimates.





Following the success of iPhone’s Siri technology, Indian start-ups are beginning to bet on speech recognition technologies, which are seeing interests from venture capitalists as well.

Speech recognition is the ability to translate spoken words into text in real time. For example, an illiterate farmer in India can in real time understand better dairy techniques from a farmer in Denmark. While speech recognition has been around since the new millennium, it’s now starting to see signs of maturity.

Acquisitions

Last week, Ozonetel, a provider of cloud-based telephony services, acquired US-based YantraSoft’s speech recognition business, which is IP heavy. YantraSoft is a start-up focusing on providing IT services to small and medium enterprises in the San Francisco Bay area.

With this acquisition, YantraSoft gets access to Ozontel’s 300 customer client base and the latter gets access to speech recognition technology in Indian English, Hindi and Telugu, which is starting to see usage in call centre, e-commerce and agri or financial services businesses. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

YantraSoft is not alone in this. Indian Angel Network (IAN), led by Nagaraja Prakasam, MV Subramanian and Ray Stata, and YourNest Angel Fund in March this year announced an undisclosed investment in Chennai-based Uniphore Software Systems, another company providing Indian language speech recognition solutions.

Uniphore’s solutions will connect millions via speech access on mobile and Internet, said Sunil K Goyal, Founder & CEO, YourNest Angel Fund. The demand for speech recognition is increasing due to a combination of factors, despite a lot of false starts in the past with regard to not understanding speech nuances and different accents.

“Speech has been a niche technology and we want to change that by opening up the Application Programming Interface (API),” said Atul Sharma, co-founder, Ozonetel, While this technology has matured, it still has some way to go, he added. API is geek speak for a set of programming standards and instructions used to develop software.

YantraSoft has already developed speech recognition software for Monsanto in India, wherein the company uses technology to assist farmers. Sharma added the company is expecting its revenue to grow five-fold from ₹5 crore in last fiscal to ₹25 crore in 2015 fiscal.

Gaining traction

Research group Gartner considers speech recognition as one of the emerging technologies that is gaining sharp traction.

Industry watchers also believe this acquisition signifies how cloud computing enables technological innovations and has the ability to help a company differentiate. Rajiv Kumar, CEO and Founder, Manusis Technologies, another start-up, said, adding that speech functionality to Ozonetel’s existing offerings in the pay-as-you-go model will help it differentiate.

“Ozonetal’s move highlights the unifying character of cloud and how technology innovations can come together to build a more valuable offering,” said Manish Godha, CEO & Founder, Advaiya Technologies.

According to industry estimates, the global speech analytics market will reach $1.33 billion by 2019, driven largely by corporate adoption.

Published on August 19, 2014

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