speak2web Upgrades Voice AI, Makes More Natural Voice Synthesis Free
Voice tech startup speak2web is bringing its advanced speech synthesis to the entry-level version of its e-commerce focused plugin for websites and apps. The extension of the more natural voice to all clients is part of the revamp of the company’s Simon AI platform, which enables shoppers to search and purchase items by voice on websites and smart speakers.
Natural Voice Shopping
Speak2web’s tech integrates into websites and mobile apps to make them accessible by voice. Simon uses indexed data on the website to let visitors search for information or complete transactions with a conversation instead of needing to type and click. The voice visitors hear until now depended on which version of Simon the client is using. At the lower level, the voice was synthesized by the user’s web browser, while premium-level clients paid to have the voice synthesized each time in the cloud. Now, the higher-quality speech is available without the expense of cloud computing, because the responses can be stored locally and reused.
“We can make the higher quality voice available for any store part of the entry-level package because it’s stored locally,” speak2web director of partnerships Jason Croyle told Voicebot in an interview. “Previously, the system had trained dialogues that it would respond with using the browser, making for a lower-quality sound. Now, it’s cheaper to have a higher-quality sound because the pre-synthesized response, once configured, is saved on the host’s server. It lowers the cost and also increases the speed of response.”
The upgraded voice is available in English and German for now, but more languages will be added, Croyle said. Bringing the better voice to more clients is one of a few upgrades speak2web is rolling out. Clients can also better understand their voice interactions by incorporating Google Analytics to track and analyze.
WordPress and Watson
Clients using speak2web’s WordPress plugin will have new options as well. Those with WordPress websites can now incorporate forms and surveys into their audio features, letting visitors fill out information by voice. speak2web also now offers a universal voice search plugin for WordPress that is free on Google Chrome and supports 16 languages. The focus on WordPress features is a natural choice, with a third of all websites using the content management system (CMS)
“The voice search is only on Chrome because none of the other browsers have a built-in speech-to-text feature,” Croyle said.
Beyond WordPress, Simon AI uses the IBM Watson AI as a base, with speak2web’s natural language processing system added. The success of the arrangement has led to IBM partnering with speak2web to augment Watson with Simon to add features like conversation continuity and website controls. The improvements come at a good moment for speak2web. In part because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are turning to e-commerce even more than usual, and some companies want to offer voice interactions to accommodate the surge of visitors. That may be why speak2web has seen a 40% jump in downloads of its 30-day free trial in the last month. The improved voice available to all clients will probably make those testing speak2web more likely to transition to full clients, Croyle said.
“A lot of people who did the plug-in trial didn’t like the browser voice, and we would lose customers over it,” Croyle explained. “People prefer the more natural voice, and now it won’t cost them more to have it.”