After selling startup to Baidu, tech vets launch new company building AI tools for call centers – GeekWire

After selling startup to Baidu, tech vets launch new company building AI tools for call centers – GeekWire

From left: Seasalt co-founder and CEO Xuchen Yao, and co-founder Guoguo Chen.

Key Takeaways

Seasalt is building customizable speech recognition tech for enterprise call centers.The founders offered their final startup to Baidu in 2017.The company companions with cloud communications big Twilio.

After selling their final startup to Baidu, a pair of tech vets are leaping again into the crowded house of voice and speech recognition with a company referred to as Seasalt.AI.

The startup sells a software program platform to enterprise corporations with contact centers. Developers can use Seasalt to construct apps, gadgets and companies that talk conversationally with customers.

The company was based by Guoguo Chen and Xuchen Yao, consultants within the discipline of voice and speech recognition software program. Chen created the “OK Google” hotword for Android and co-authored a speech recognition mission referred to as Kaldi, which Nvidia ultimately built-in into its graphics card. Yao in the meantime is a Johns Hopkins University PhD graduate who beforehand labored on the Allen Institute for AI (AI2) incubator in Seattle.

In 2015, Chen and Yao co-founded KITT.AI, a startup that spun out of AI2. One of the company’s hottest merchandise was a customizable wake phrase engine referred to as Snowboy, a software program toolkit that allowed builders to add verbal hotwords to their very own {hardware}. The startup additionally launched ChatFlow, a framework for builders to construct chatbots.

Baidu acquired KITT.AI in 2017. Chen and Yao labored for the Chinese tech big for two years, leaving in 2019.

Seasalt, which has 22 staff, gives a customizable speech recognition engine. The startup describes its tech because the “subsequent technology” of conversational AI. It raised a small seed spherical when it initially launched in January 2020.

The company sells six purposes, which work in tandem as a part of its full suite of companies, listed under, referred to as “SeaSuite.”

SeaChat lets customers create a framework for automated chatbot responses.SeaCode is a software program growth studio for conversational AI. Users can use the platform to construct tools equivalent to chatbots.SeaVoice is a speech-to-text (STT) transcription characteristic that may be personalized to perceive totally different languages and nuanced speech, amongst different makes use of. This instrument additionally has a text-to-speech (TTT) characteristic, which may be personalized to sound like Tom Hanks or David Attenborough.SeaMeet‘s secretary-like options can be utilized in conferences and conferences. It can establish up to 12 distinctive audio system within the room. Users can prepare the mannequin to present computerized assembly minutes and follow-up notes, amongst different actions. SeaWord may be personalized to go over textual content to extract significant data. The instrument can be used to spotlight and redact phrases like identifiable data.SeaX is a instrument designed for contact centers. It can automate responses to incoming messages, calls and social media, amongst others. The software program additionally contains a instrument that call middle brokers can use to transcribe and categorize incoming calls from clients.

A demo of how the startup lets customers prepare their AI fashions to perceive nuanced language.

Seasalt goals to provide tools which are able to understanding nuance in each speech and textual content. Its essential use case is in enterprise contact centers. These corporations use the software program to not solely monitor and consider their brokers, however to additionally mixture voice information to extract insights.

Global firms want to function call centers in a whole bunch of nations, which means they may inevitably encounter low-resource languages and accents in each place they function. In America, for instance, there are a minimum of 24 dialects of English.

Seasalt has about 50 clients, together with massive enterprise corporations in Southeast Asia.

“For any enterprise company, when you have some actually bizarre spelling or some technical jargon, we are able to deal with that,” Yao instructed GeekWire.

Seattle has develop into a hotbed for NLP-focused startups, a lot of which spun out of AI2, which focuses on such analysis. Its present roster consists of Xembly, Read, Unwrap and Augment, amongst others.

Spoken Communication, a Seattle startup that offered speech recognition tech to call centers, was acquired by Avaya in 2018.

Yao mentioned that due to the pandemic, there are various cross-border e-commerce websites popping up in north and Southeast Asia, selling their merchandise abroad. This is making a tailwind for Seasalt, he mentioned. He added that the area is at present underserved by opponents.

The call-center expertise market consists of many current gamers. Tech big Google sells its pure language capabilities in a packaged answer referred to as Contact Center Artificial Intelligence. Amazon and Microsoft even have their very own companies: AWS Contact Center Intelligence and Azure Cognitive Services. Other notable gamers embrace Deepgram, Five9, Avaya and eight×8.

Yao mentioned Seasalt wouldn’t have the “muscle” to compete in opposition to Five9 or different publicly traded corporations if it didn’t have its partnership with Twilio, which bolsters its gross sales chain. He defined {that a} lesson he realized from KITT.AI was that software program itself is just not what goes to create a moat for the startup. Instead, he added, it comes from its present distribution, commercialization and buyer base.

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