Leading e-commerce retailer Flipkart has acquired Liv.ai, an artificial intelligence-led speech-recognition startup that has developed a speech-to-text platform supporting 10 Indian languages.
The acquisition would help Flipkart overcome the language barrier problem for an adoption of e-commerce. It will become part of Flipkart's center of excellence for voice solutions, and help accelerate an end-to-end conversational shopping experience for its users.
Liv.ai’s co-founders Subodh, Sanjeev and Kishore, along with the entire Liv team will be joining Flipkart as a part of the deal. The team under the leadership of Ravish Sinha, Vice President, Flipkart, will drive developing the voice solutions, integration with Flipkart app and developing use cases for various categories.
Founded in 2015, Liv.ai built speech-to-text APIs that enable low latency speech to text conversion in 10 Indian languages that include Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
“The next wave of growth of Internet users is coming from Tier 2+ cities and 70 percent of these current internet users are native or vernacular language speakers and this proportion is only increasing. Given the complexities in typing on vernacular keyboards, voice will become a preferred interface for new shoppers. One does understand that building a voice interface is complex, and is especially challenging in Indian context given multiple languages and accents," said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart.
"The team at Liv has been able to solve this through multiple technological innovations including deep neural net based methods. This expertise is a big capability add-on for us and we are delighted to welcome them to Flipkart. Ultimately, we want to give our customers a conversational e-commerce experience and believe that with the voice interface the opportunities are endless including discovery, search, engagement, transactions etc. With Liv, we’re one step closer making e-commerce accessible to emerging users,” he added.“Building a voice interface is complex, and is especially challenging in Indian context given multiple languages and accents. At Liv, we are proud of the team that surmounted many challenging problems to deliver a remarkable Speech recognition solution for India. While Flipkart has been solving for quintessential Indian problems, it is an exciting time for us to join in and solve it together. We are excited with the opportunity that is being presented to scale this up further and make it available to millions of consumers and help them have a deep level e-commerce experience,” said Subodh Kumar, CEO and co-founder of Liv.ai.