Agora Launches Marketplace with Extensions from Bose and Voicemod, Pledges $100 Million to Fund New Ecosystem
At its RTE2021 conference last week, Agora announced the introduction of a new marketplace that includes feature extensions from third-party developers. This is expected to significantly expand the features Agora can offer its customers. The company also announced its plans to invest $100 million in the real-time engagement (RTE) ecosystem. What form that investment takes such as making the marketplace function or actually funding third-party development is yet to be clarified.
The biggest name among the launch partners for the RTE ecosystem is audio giant Bose. “The Bose extension, PinPoint™ noise filter, helps reduce unwanted background noise whether in a conference call, playing an on-line game, or using a chat app. The extension can be used with any headphones, in any Agora application,” according to the announcement.
Hive was also called out for its content moderation API. This extension can detect, “a wide range of offensive content such as hate symbols, nudity, violence,” and so on.
What is Agora?
Agora is best known by many as the infrastructure that makes Clubhouse work. The company positions itself as a pioneer in the market for real-time engagement APIs (i.e. services for voice and video). This translates into a suite of solutions to host live audio and video streams through applications. Some of its solution areas include live audio streaming with 3-D spatial audio, telehealth, social media, gaming.
While Agora’s most widely known applications simply involve streaming digital content at scale, the real-time nature of the content provides ample opportunities to leverage voice AI technologies as services as Voicebot predicted in February 2021. The presence of VoiceMod, Symbl.ai, and Marsview in Agora’s announcement suggests this evolution is happening quickly.
Social Audio and the Intersection with Voice AI
VoiceMod offers voice-changing software. The extension includes a catalog of 6 of the 100 voices that VoiceMod offers. These can be used in real-time by streamers to transform the sound of their own voice. In addition, it comes with six voice effects including delays, reverb, filter, and pitch shifters.
Symbl.ai, a graduate of the Alexa Next Stage accelerator, has a new extension for real-time conversation intelligence. Some of the insights that Symbl can extract from Agora-enabled streams include the identification of action items, topics, questions, and custom intents. Marsview has a similar offering with additional features such as speaker separate, intent recognition, tone and sentiment analysis, and transcription.
The PinPoint extension from Bose is a tool to filter out noise from real-time audio streams to increase audio quality. For example, it can be used to filter out all noise other than voice in an outgoing audio stream. Beyond audio quality, this could potentially improve the data accuracy for speech recognition and processes the audio locally on the user’s device within the app.
Voice AI and social audio exist as separate but complementary markets. Social audio could simply exist as dumb pipes transmitting data. However, with voice AI technologies that data can be analyzed, transformed, and utilized to provide new real-time services as well as post hoc insights. That means social audio is a big potential market for voice AI technology. Agora’s new Extensions Marketplace will make it easier for developers to take advantage of these technologies and for voice AI vendors to make them available.