Esha Mehta

08, August 2020

’Where is that button?!’ has surpassed all other remarks which rush through our head as we navigate through a new app or website. With our eyes still trying to catch up with all that attractive-looking UI, we get baffled at some point of time.

Has an AI-bot like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant ever made a big-time misinterpretation of what you said? And it sure feels silly, doesn’t it?. “Voice is great as an input mechanism but sucks as an output mechanism”, says our speaker Kumar Rangarajan, the Co-Founder of Slang Labs. “And we wanted the product to be a mixture of voice and visuals because apps are really great for a visual experience”

So how many clicks did you make to come to this blog or how many screens did you switch? 10? 20? But what if you could just talk to your app and say,” Open so and so blog”. And that too in the language of your choice without being misconstrued! Interesting, right?

Slang Labs is a Voice-to-Action SDK that enables apps to understand and react to their users' voice - with a focus on Indian languages because we Indians love talking.

Talking about talking, the conversation with an AI-bot seems quite unnatural. Every time you want to talk, you say,” Alexa, do this…'' or “Hey Siri, do that....”. On the other hand, while talking to people we do not greet that often. So at Slang Labs, the SDK maintains a continued conversation. It accelerates the efficiency of every user of every app.

The foundation of the company was laid on this simple yet thought-provoking question, ‘ Why can’t our moms use the apps we make?’. There are many dimensions to this question. The users find it difficult to type non-English words like is it ‘alu’ or ‘aloo’. Moreover, words like ‘checkout’ and ‘cart’ are foreign to our moms and the entire generation she represents who are tuned to buying from local sabjiwalas with a steel vegetable tray and an exceptional talent for bargaining. Activities like navigating from page 1 to 2 and searching for that ‘change password’ or ‘sign out’ option can be an uphill task.

But with the SDK provided by Slang Labs, everything is just a click away. But while some features function seamlessly with a voice system, some work best in the touch system. While asking about your bank balance, you definitely don’t want the app to announce it to the entire world. Such sensitive and personal information needs to be catered using the touch system to maintain privacy and security.

Also talking in public includes that unnecessary background noise to your voice input. This would have otherwise led to an inaccurate interpretation of your subject, but Slang Labs uses an ASR (Automated speech recognition) technology to eliminate the noise. Some of the other technologies used are NLP(Natural language processing) and TTS (Text To Speech).

Being a country of diverse languages, we also house numerous dialects. The accent poses a challenge for AI to interpret the sentences and this is where systems have evolved and will keep evolving. The voice output however currently restricted to a particular accent only might be seen moulding itself with regional dialects in the future. “Yes, the system can learn from the user but how much and how long will it take cannot be specified,” says Kumar. The system might as well learn from our past activities and make suggestions about our future requirements.

Whether we use voice assistance technologies or touch systems, technology will always keep dazzling us with surprises. It will keep evolving and one day, with techies like Kumar Rangarajan our moms will understand the apps we make.

Written by,
Esha Mehta

Esha Mehta

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