Voice Tech Podcast
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Voice Tech Podcast

Amazon and Techstars declare their 2020 Alexa Next Stage program

Alexa Accelerator program is a startup accelerator, that was laid down by Amazon on the foundational belief that voice will rudimentarily improve and bring about a colossal change in the way we humans interact with technology on a day-to-day basis.

What is Alexa Next Stage or Alexa Accelerator?

It involves a scrupulous selection process to form a cohort of companies, that would take part in further development and buildout of voice technology with the product leaders and technologists from Amazon and Techstars themselves. It’s a 13-week program and is now renamed as Alexa Next Stage.

How will the developments benefit the masses in current times?

Paul Bernard, the Fund Director of Amazon Alexa has claimed that usage of this hands-free technology has witnessed a marked increase during the global pandemic, compared to last year; through an email sent to VentureBeat. People are using touchless technology more, given the new emerging environments and necessities where touching surfaces is not advisable.

“According to a study conducted by NPR and Edison research, the use of voice-enabled apps skyrocketed between the beginning of 2020 and April, the same year”

A common man is said to use voice-enabled apps at least once every day! This situation led to Amazon brainstorming ways to develop its voice-based technology even further through the Alexa Accelerator program to suit people’s needs during such tough times.

Amazon went through a rigorous evaluation process to choose the 7 start-up companies mentioned below to facilitate the overall development and improvement of its smart assistant, Amazon Alexa. The 7 companies forming the cohort hailing from places all around the globe have united to commit their very bests into bringing about enhancements and upgradations in Amazon Alexa as well as giving life to their mission in the span of 13 weeks.

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1. Alba Robot (Turin, Italy): Their mission is to create an autonomous driving system, especially aimed towards the physically impaired. They are developing a Kit for wheelchairs that would allow the users to operate it primarily with the help of voice-commands so that they don’t have to use their hands to set their wheelchairs into motion, or change directions.

2. Symbl (Seattle, Washington): It is an early-stage group backed by Techstars, that adds real-time conversational intelligence to meetings. They are developing a system to provide Voice and Text APIs to platforms and businesses, to increase their user base with the information. It lets them own the user experience, and solve real-time problems immediately; henceforth providing their customers a lucid experience altogether.

3. Blerp (Salt Lake City, Utah): It is a search engine that allows users to share short audio clips such as recordings, or voice notes over numerous platforms such as Twitch, Twitter, Discord, WhatsApp, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr and so forth. It lets people add special effects and tune the soundbite in tons of different ways, with the help of soundboards making one-to-one connections deeper and more fun.

4. Sybel (Paris, France): Sybel is a content studio based in Paris, France which creates audio content based on authorized characters and stories. Imparting a technology with the help of which parents don’t have to read their children bedtime stories anymore, or as a matter of fact, anyone wouldn’t have to read ‘text’ in the upcoming years anymore. It will be read out with the help of voice, packed with music effects and background sounds to give users the independence to listen to any story, anywhere; with the script, casting and the sound design all brought together into one.

5. Blue Fever (Los Angeles, California): It is a conversational app that recommends women, primarily belonging to the age group of 13 to 20 according to their mood and preferences. They do it over text message conversations, to empower women by making them see themselves in a more accepting and wholesome manner by providing non-judgemental media recommendations.

6. Lingvist (Tallinn, Estonia): It is an application available on iOS and Android that lets users learn foreign languages, keeping in mind the relevance of words in today’s date and its usage. It implements a sliding difficulty scale that lets users know what they need to look into, and what they can skip practicing, making the learning process easier.

7. Kardome (Tel Aviv, Israel): Solely made to enhance the performance of smart speakers, it analyses and implements algorithms to assure a clear, distortion-free sound detection and output even in noisy, disturbed environments.

During the 3-month accelerator program, the start-up companies would get an opportunity to refine their models, develop their knowledge, and contribute to enhancing Amazon Alexa further, under the mentorship of Amazon and Techstars.

Amazon Alexa Funds tends to back these early-stage companies up, fueling their enthusiasm and providing a push to do better. So not only are the masses in for surprising new features in Alexa in the near future, but also various transfiguring inventions based on voice-technology. With all of the missions the above 7 companies are working upon, we can only imagine what a stunning revolution voice-technology is about to introduce into this world in the upcoming years.

All in all, it’s a win-win situation!

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Tapaan Chauhan

Founder & CEO at Smart Voice Studio | Brand Voice Consultant | VUI Designer | Conversational AI | Voice marketing strategy designer www.smartvoicestudio.com