Com-Score, a data analytics firm, conducted studies that proved that over half of all searches would be voice-based by the year 2020. Accenture’s 2018 Digital Consumer Survey predicts that 39% of India’s online presence will mostly own a digital assistant by 2020. Hence, experts and pioneers in the field of technology have concluded that voice-recognition is all set to be the next big thing in the Indian economy in the years to come. Very soon, the voice will become the preferred mode of transaction for e-commerce, banking, and payments.
This is the primary reason for tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and even Samsung are competing to buy into India’s 300 million smartphone user market base. This user base is projected to grow at astounding rates resulting in over 440 million users by 2022. The major problem though is that over 90% of such technology work only in English and most Indians are more comfortable in native languages when compared to English. Here let’s take a look at two new Indian startups who are disrupting the industry and shaping a future for themselves using Augmented Reality and voice-recognition software.
Scanta: AR app
AR-based startup Scanta Inc. combines the best that AR and machine learning has to offer to grow the existing environment and update it with newly available information.
Chaitanya Hiremath, founder and CEO of Scanta, had the following to say about the future of such startups, “We are seeing a trend from text communication transitioning to voice-based communication. However, there has yet to be an immersive visual representation of voice commands that express emotion.”
ML technology helps users analyse keywords and generate a character that can then be shared online through a platform. These animations make conversations more engaging and interactive, helping them to have conversations more effectively. Scanta plans to work together with mobile devices to increase the visibility and range of their product. “It is exciting to think of a world where animations can automatically be created by ML through voice commands,” says Hiremath when discussing the impact that such technology can have on day-to-day life.
Vokal India is a voice-based platform, started by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka that aims to become the biggest vernacular knowledge sharing platform in the world. The startup aims to use voice recognition and text-to-speech software to ask questions in regional languages helping to bridge the communication gap that might arise in a country as diverse and vast as India.
Aprameya Radhakrishnan, the CEO of Vokal answered as follows when asked about what inspired her to start such a company, “Only 10% of India understands English. The rest speak 100+ Indian languages. Vokal enables a user to ask questions in their native language and gets subject matter experts to respond to users, largely over audio and video—making it very easy to consume.”
Vokal boasts of over 1.5 million question-and-answer templates that dramatically enhances its functionality. Users have a variety of interests to choose from and can even create sub-sections in those areas and follow specific content creators who work in those particular areas.
The platform has over two million monthly users and is growing at a staggering rate of about 30-50% every month. While it supports the usage of audio and video now, it is being developed to cater to those who require help and support over text and the staff are confident that the new updates will be rolling in soon enough, bringing great joy to those who prefer reading to listening.
Another success story worth mentioning here is that of the platform Liv.ai. While Subodh Kumar, a tech professional has spent significant amounts of time in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, he still prefers conversing in Hindi whether the conversation is of a personal or professional nature.
When basic mobiles first came to my hometown, people had difficulty using it as though Hindi keyboards were available typing, in Hindi was cumbersome. This is when I first had the idea of talking to these devices in my mother-tongue,” recalls Kumar.
Four years ago, he, Kishore Mundra and Sanjeev Kumar setup Liv.ai., a speech-recognition company that now has over 500 business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers. The application supports over ten regional languages and now plans on adding even more of them to the roster. The device can be trained to buy groceries, pay bills, book tickets and manage your schedule and all this can be done within the comfort of your regional language, increasing the app’s accessibility tenfold.
An Indian startup, Reverie Technologies has come out with a voice assistant that functions in seven major local languages. The startup led by Arvind Pani, Vivek Pani and SK Mohanty, has decided to call the software ‘Gopal’ and chose this name to gain the trust of the people by avoiding international sounding names. While the application is currently in a beta-testing stage, the app is stated to become a disruptor in the industry due to its creative design and great functionality.
With Apple planning on launching Siri in Hindi and Google officially announcing that a Hindi version of Google Assistant will soon be out, it is sure that the voice-based technology industry is growing at break-neck speeds. Amazon’s Alexa will soon be able to comprehend languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Punjabi while conversing in them will still take a lot more development from their side. Such events cement the fact that such technology will be the frontrunner in the position for the most fundamental technique for shaping the future of startups in India.