AI Live Captioning Startup Ava Raises $10M
AI-powered live captioning startup Ava has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Khosla Venture. Ava offers captioning services for the deaf and hard of hearing whether in-person, online, or in a video. The AI service operates on its own or in conjunction with a human editor for enterprise clients.
Ava Closed Captions comes as a web and desktop app that listens to audio during meetings or from videos to provide captioning. The Ava Scribe Service augments the AI with real-time human editing, suitable for professional needs like important business meetings and presentations. Ava’s AI can identify people by their voice, tagging the speaker with each caption, and can understand and decipher who is saying what even when multiple people are speaking at about half the cost of standard human-provided captioning. The company’s clients include major companies like Nokia and Air France, as well as educational and government organizations like George Wahington University and the State of California.
“My entire life has revolved around ensuring deaf and hard-of-hearing people have access to the same information as everyone else,” Ava CEO Thibault Duchemin said. “This started when I was 5 years old, helping my deaf parents and sister; with Ava, I’ve had the opportunity to help millions more. We’re very excited to leverage this new funding to continue Ava’s mission to create a fully accessible world.”
The new funding boosts Ava’s investment total to $16.5 million and will help Ava develop more affordable live closed captioning and improve accessibility for those with hearing impairment. The money will also go to expanding Ava’s business and carving a bigger piece of what Aa claims to be a $20 billion real-time communication access and transcription market.
AI-powered captioning has become increasingly common for communications and media platforms, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent rush toward virtual conferences and digital entertainment. Instagram added automated captions to videos on its feed in March, following similar options for Snapchat videos and Twitter’s voice tweets. Last year, YouTube started offering automated captions for livestreaming and Google made live captioning a part of the Chrome Browser. Otter.ai saw so much success with its transcription service that it upgraded its platform to encompass new features that summarize conversations and highlight any notable decisions or action items.