Voice-based AI solutions are breaking into education, entertainment, HR, and other industries. According to investors, these platforms could be transformational for overcoming language barriers and bridging cultural gaps.
Early this year, an Israeli startup Deephub raised $20 million to develop AI that dubs movies in actors’ original voices. The company capitalized on the rising popularity of foreign-language series, such as Netflix’s Spanish hit Money Heist and Korean drama Squid Game.
But the potential to “bridge the great cultural divide” with AI-based voice solutions goes beyond entertainment. Don Burton, managing partner at the New York-based LearnStart VC fund, believes language learning is the future of applied technology.
“The long-term potential of AI-powered voice solutions, or any AI, is tremendous,” Burton said. “Unfortunatey, in the short term, most solutions over-promise and under-deliver. English language learning is the area where AI will find its niche first. There is a huge global need. And the advantages, such as low cost and high quality, will be tremendous.”
The future of communication
Next-generation language AI is poised to transform language education, generating billions of dollars for investors. By fast-forwarding the self-regulated learning and fast-tracking adoption of these technologies, the COVID-19 pandemic made it possible.
A number of startups have begun to capitalize on the trend. For example, a new AI-based language learning platform, Praktika.ai, focuses on Latin Americans seeking employment in the U.S. and internationally. The Delaware-based company recently launched in Brazil.
According to company founder Adam Turaev, “The solution helps you train for specific situations like job interviews by practicing real-life scenarios with realistic AI robots. That way you can get fluent in context, even if you don’t have a conversation partner in the real world, and at a fraction of the cost of private tutoring.”
Although Praktika.ai concentrates on language skills, its main focus is cultural differences. For many foreign employees, they are the main barriers for communicating effectively and receiving a job offer.
The global conversational AI market is projected to grow to more than $46 billion by 2028, although the estimates vary. Top companies working on voice solutions include Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and many others.
According to Markets and Markets, North America as a region has adopted conversational AI the most extensively. Asia-Pacific is estimated to be the fastest-growing region, due to “growing digitization and increasing adoption of advanced ML and AI technologies.”
According to George Molakal, CEO at private equity investment firm Alcor Fund, AI-powered voice solutions will be a great area to focus on for technology. “In the next decade we’ll use voice for all documentation, searches, communication, and validation,” Molakal said.
Language in the metaverse
Metaverse might take center stage when it comes to developing AI-enhanced cross-cultural communication and language learning.
Meta, which is now developing its own metaverse, attracts users from different countries. There are 111 different languages officially supported by Meta’s social media platforms, such as Facebook.
Considering there are over 7,000 languages and even more dialects in the world, the market potential is huge. And a lot of users are still left behind.
The existing 2.9 billion Facebook users are mainly staying within their language group, rarely communicating with those who speak a different language.
In February 2022, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was working on building an AI-powered universal speech translator for languages in its metaverse. The solution could work for everyone in the digital world.
“The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever,” Zuckerberg said. “AI is going to deliver that in our lifetimes.”
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