Sanas Launches Real-time Accent Translation Technology

A major challenge and frustration in global communications, even when people are speaking the same language, is understanding an unfamiliar accent. This accent mismatch situation can become a major inefficiency in business and risks serious misunderstandings.

To foster seamless communication in all areas of business, education, telemedicine, entertainment and more, Sanas will roll out real-time speech accent translation technology. Its solution will be used by seven BPOs (Business Process Outsourcers) globally starting in the fall of this year.

With no noticeable lag and edge deployment, the patent-pending Sanas software intercepts audio and converts accents through a speech-to-speech approach, building a virtual bridge between the audio device and the computer, and then sending the new signal to whichever communication app (Zoom, Hangouts, etc.) is in use. Almost instantly, the accent of a customer care representative, for example, will be matched to the accent of an incoming caller.

The company also is announcing its $5.5 million seed round of funding. Top venture funds investing in the company include Human Capital, General Catalyst, Quiet Capital, and DN Capital. Speech industry veterans joining Sanas’ Board of Advisors include Wendell Brown (Co-founder, Liveops, Teleo, eVoice) and Steven G. Chambers (former President of Nuance). The funds will be used to expand the engineering team and to introduce the software in more global markets.

Sanas was created by a team of Stanford student engineers and top speech machine learning experts. The first application for the technology is in customer care centers, an industry where accent issues can be particularly problematic.

Research by external sources revealed that by eliminating this accent barrier, companies enjoy increased customer satisfaction, sales, communication efficiency. Further, internal studies from Sanas showed increased foreign language learner fluency, as well as decreased word error rate (15 percent on industry-leading automatic speech recognition devices or ASRs).

The idea for Sanas was inspired by the experience of three international friends from China, Russia and Venezuela, all of whom have very different accents. They witnessed firsthand the communication struggle due to accents and saw a mutual friend quit his job because of this challenge. They realized there had to be a better way to communicate and went to work to create the real-time speech accent translation technology.

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