Ava Sets the Example for Universal Live Captioning and Raises $10M for Further Development

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When was the last time we signed up for an AI-based captioning service? Avathey just raised the seed round and it was six months after the pandemic that changed the way we all work together. 18 months later, investors are knocking on their doors after huge growth, and they are keen to continue showing the tech industry how deaf and hard of hearing people should be included in the hybrid workplace.

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The company’s tools provide instant captions to any voice a user hears, whether it’s during a video call, on a Tiktok video, or with friends. (Of course, there are different applications and features for each platform, but they all work together.)

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“Over the past year and a half since our interview, we have increased our revenue and customer base by about 10 times, mainly due to the fact that our empowerment products were provided to users in search of better solutions,” Ava CEO Thibault Duchemin told TechCrunch.

It is better it’s certainly a working word, as we’ve seen accessibility options popping up here and there in the productivity tools we use a lot. But the truth is that things like automatic call transcription, useful as they are, are just the bare minimum of inclusion, and people with hearing or vision impairments are otherwise almost completely excluded. (And that’s if there are options available at all, which is not the case for many popular online platforms.)

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Ava’s approach is to provide a more powerful and independently customizable captioning tool that works with everything from podcasts to group meetings to private chats, and in a way that a person can actually use.

What’s the point of having subtitles if you can’t tell who’s talking? Why listen if you can’t answer? Whose job is it to provide transcriptions of content hosted on the intranet?

Ava at least offers ways to move forward in all of these situations, and while much of that responsibility lies with the person using the tool, its capabilities mean the workplace can adapt to them more seamlessly. Duchemin noted that the company has deaf and hard of hearing people in leadership positions on the team who bring real-world, hands-on experience to the topic.

“Through the funding, we will redouble our product and development efforts by delivering new capabilities that integrate Ava into the everyday needs of our deaf and hard of hearing users while maintaining our signature of empowerment and accessibility. Duchemin said.

The $10 million funding was led by Khosla Ventures, which was involved in the seed but came to Ava wanting to spearhead the project. Duchemin also highlighted a new strategic investor in Jim Sorenson, founder of a telecommunications company for the deaf and hard of hearing, hinting at the coming integration of the mobile industry. Initialized Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, LeFonds VC and Ring Capital participated in the round.

In addition to expected product and engineering improvements, and some new partnerships to come in the future, Duchemin said they are working on a “massive expansion” of the network of “scribes,” professional subtitles, so that content can be transcribed. professional almost instantly.

Animated image of a transcriber editing Ava's live transcript.

Image credits: Ava

These people are not full-fledged transcribers, but rather work with AI tools to correct and complete the process live. Although the automatic transcripts are very useful, they are not accurate enough to be considered the final result, for example, to be published without editing in an article like this. Human transcription is necessarily slower and more expensive, but Ava thinks it can reduce latency to the point where you can get a near-perfect transcript within a minute of something happening.

Incidentally, the issues of deafness and being a child of deaf adults have been in the spotlight recently as the film CODA won a couple of Oscars for its portrayal. And Ava was on set, used by the cast and crew when there were no interpreters around and sign language was not possible.

“It was unexpected, we discovered this when we read the Apple TV feature promoting apps on set,” Duchemin said. “I think deaf and hard of hearing users end up choosing tools that serve them and their environments benefit from them. It’s a wholesome circle!”

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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