Backed with $5.5 million in seed funding, Sanas’ accent-matching solution makes it easier for people to understand each other in customer care centers, remote tech support, education, telemedicine, and more.
Palo Alto, Calif. – Aug. 30, 2021 – A major challenge and frustration in global communications, even when people are speaking in the same language, is understanding an unfamiliar accent. This accent mismatch situation can become a major inefficiency in business and risks serious misunderstandings. To foster seamless communication in all areas of business, education, telemedicine, entertainment, and more, Sanas will officially roll out the world’s first real-time speech accent translation technology. Their solution will be used by seven BPOs (Business Process Outsourcers) globally starting in the fall of this year. Today, the company is also announcing its $5.5 million seed round of funding.
With no noticeable lag and edge deployment, the patent-pending Sanas software intercepts audio and converts accents through a speech-to-speech approach, building a virtual bridge between the audio device and the computer, and then sending the new signal to whichever communication app (Zoom, Hangouts, etc.) is in use. Almost instantly, the accent of a customer care representative, for example, will be matched to the accent of an incoming caller.
Top venture funds investing in the company’s $5.5 million seed round include Human Capital, General Catalyst, Quiet Capital, and DN Capital. Speech industry veterans joining Sanas’ Board of Advisors include Wendell Brown (Co-founder, Liveops, Teleo, eVoice) and Steven G. Chambers (former President of Nuance). The funds will be used to expand the engineering team and to introduce the software in more global markets.
“The world has shrunk, and people are doing business globally, while at the same time they have real difficulty understanding each other. Even getting Google Home or Alexa to understand accents accurately is extremely important,” said Sanas’ CEO, Maxim Serebryakov. “Digital communication is critical for our daily lives. Sanas is striving to make communication easy and free from friction, so people can speak confidently and understand each other, wherever they are and whoever they are trying to communicate with.”
Sanas was created by a team of Stanford student engineers and top speech machine learning experts. The first application for the technology is in customer care centers, an industry where accent issues can be particularly problematic.
“As an immigrant from Turkey, I’ve always felt that getting rid of the accent barrier was a critical next step for a more fair and prosperous world,” said Baris Akis, president and co-founder, Human Capital. “It’s been amazing to partner with a team that’s so mission-driven and pushing the edge of speech technology to make that a reality.”
Research by external sources revealed that by eliminating this accent barrier, companies enjoy increased customer satisfaction, sales, communication efficiency. Further, internal studies from Sanas showed increased foreign language learner fluency, as well as decreased word error rate (15% on industry-leading automatic speech recognition devices or ASRs).
The idea for Sanas was inspired by the experience of three international friends from Russia, China, and Venezuela, all of whom have very different accents. They witnessed firsthand the communication struggle due to accents and saw a mutual friend quit his job because of this challenge. They realized that there had to be a better way to communicate.
“We plan to introduce the accent-matching technology to a range of industries and environments far beyond customer care and technical support, which are two very obvious use cases,” said Serebryakov. “There are also creative use cases such as those in entertainment and media where producers can make their films and programs understandable in different parts of the world by matching accents to localities. We are also exploring how machines can better interpret what people are saying. We’ve only begun to explore the possibilities.”
Sanas was established by three Stanford students coming out of the renowned Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) with the aim of helping the world understand and be understood, and an end goal of unlocking potential through increased understanding and efficacy of communication in digital conversations. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Sanas’ members, and advisors include some of the top speech machine learning scientists in the world. For more information, visit sanas.ai.
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