Uniphore Software, the Chennai-based speech recognition technology company, is planning a rapid expansion over the next couple of years in the US, Europe and South-East Asia.
The company, which has Kris Gopalakrishnan amongst its investors, and which was this week identified as one of 20 of India’s most dynamic businesses by India Emerging 20, an initiative by the London Mayor’s office, is planning to expand across the US where it already has a presence in the next few months, and hopes to follow with offices in the UK, Europe, and across South East Asian countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Australia and Japan.
Co-founder Ravi Saraogi, who was attending the IE20 programme in London intended to foster relations with VC investors and business partners, said that while the company did not have ambitions to become one with a heavy workforce, they hoped to roll out its speech technology globally across all continents, with ambitions to reach revenue levels of a $100 million over the next five years. The company has offices in India, the Philippines and the UAE with 100 employees. It's technologies currently work with over 30 languages globally, including many dialects.
“Speech is perhaps the most important medium of communication — as a species we like to talk and what we do at Uniphore is transform the way speech is understood by systems, allowing systems to understand what the person is speaking and provide critical output,” said Saraogi.
Founded as an IIT Chennai incubator in 2008, Uniphore initially focused on rural markets, developing speech recognition technology that enabled farmers with limited literacy levels to access data over the phone by voice, including on the weather, prices, and other crucial information. Since then the company’s products have evolved into three forms: technology that allows call centres to analyse 100 per cent of calls being put through them (a big shift from the existing system which relied on a sampling), the creation of voice-based virtual assistants for companies, and voice biometrics, providing security based on voice recognition. “Every voice is as unique as a fingerprint,” says Saraogi.
He believes the technology has great potential going forward. “With the Internet of Things — a Google Glass or a smart watch — the natural way of interacting with those devices will be through speech. The new digital age calls for the domestication of technology and we believe that that domestication cannot be done without speech.”
He also hopes that in markets such as India, it will also be able to help increase access to technology and information (including as part of the Digital India campaign). “We are still talking about a scenario where education and Internet is a problem — but with that drive coming in people we believe speech can play a big role for them to use and access that information.”