Last week, Intertainment Media (TSXV:INT) completed a deal that will see it acquire 25% of Israel-based voice translation innovator Lexifone.
Lexifone’s technology, which is currently in beta testing and will be released soon, allows a user to speak normally into a phone and have their speech translated into the language of their choice within seconds. After acquiring the interest in Lexifone, Intertainment placed it into its text-based translation subsidiary Ortsbo, which will soon be spun out as its own entity.
Management believes the combination of Ortsbo’s current smash-hit text offering, which recently topped 100-million users, and Lexifone’s voice solutions will create a “beautifully simple user experience” that will be of significant interest to the enterprise market. Cantech Letter caught up with Intertainment Media CEO David Lucatch to dig down on the transaction.
David, why did Intertainment Media acquire 25% of Lexifone?
The deal with Lexifone is a multi-stage deal. Our first foray into ownership of the company is a 25% stake, but we do have a right of first refusal to increase the percentage. The reason we did that is that believe voice technologies are the next evolution of communications services with language applied. Our focus is still real-time global communications that one can experience through technology.
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How does this pair with Ortsbo’s current offerings?
I think it moves us into a new realm very quickly. Whether it’s SIRI or other applications, people are a little more focused on voice today. We don’t believe other applications, at this time, have a great degree of accuracy. It’s challenging at times working with voice recognition software, not only to recognize voice, but then to exchange languages. We think the Lexifone solution is well beyond what we have seen to date, and we demonstrated it in November at our annual shareholder meeting.
Walk me through a practical use of this. How does it work and how is the user experience better than what is out there right now?
Most situations today use data as the platform. The challenge with data is that if you are traveling and on a mobile phone, data plans are very expensive. Lexifone uses a different set of technologies that makes it much more cost effective to do what we do in terms of connectivity. But the experience is very, very simple and will get progressively better. If I’m on any phone I can connect to Lexifone with my friend on the other end of the phone. While I might speak English and my friend might speak Italian I can connect simply and easily and Lexifone will create a buffer in between that does the translation. A more likely scenario would be if I were in Italy, speaking English, and want to make a restaurant reservation. They may not speak English, but I can now communicate using Lexifone.
My mind jumps to a couple applications. Seems Lexifone would make it easier for brands to reach audiences, and also certain business situations…
Absolutely. When you can combine the two solutions, the Ortsbo chat solution which is text based, and the Lexifone solution, which is voice based, there are some pretty powerful opportunities, especially when you get into the realm of customer care. Recently, we did a demonstration for online customer care for a major international company. The Ortsbo solution proved to be between 94% and 100% accurate during the demonstration. That we can combine it with voice now is very interesting to companies with many thousands of employees.