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Speechly: Giving Voice Applications Natural Language Quality


“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” In these words by James Humes lies the meaning of any type of communication.

Communication and interaction are key human traits that are today integrated as voice technology solutions. Although unfamiliar with this new way of operating, many still admit that next-generation voice technologies are alleviating life on a large scale.

Speechly is a natural language understanding tool with real-time automatic speech recognition that allows full customization and accuracy of a voice application. Co-founded by four information technology geniuses, Speechly’s creators wished to give the technology world a voice.

Otto Söderlund, Hannes Heikinheimo, Markus Lång, and Janne Pylkkönen are the brilliant minds behind the flexible Voice API technology. Wishing to reach as many clients as possible in different professional spheres, here is how the Speechly team has worked towards improving and expanding their latest tech revolution.

Building the Dream Team

Entrepreneur, advisor, and a proven expert in his field, Otto Söderlund is the CEO and co-founder of Speechly. Completing Lycee Franco-Finlandais D’Helsinki, Otto put a lot of effort into his education. He attended MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School Online where he acquired certification in Network Мarkets and Disruptive Strategy.

He also received his Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, with interest areas in data mining, neural networks, and machine learning. Otto completed his academic career at Teknillinen korkeakoulu - Tekniska hogskolan and received his Master of Science in Information Networks.

Fluent in five languages, Otto had no problem finding his place in the professional pond. His career started in 1993 as a SysOp in Turp BBS and continued as a Software Engineer and owner of Valuatum. During his career, Otto experimented with being a marketing professional, a management consultant, associate partner, and investor in several companies - until he decided to join the Speechly team as a co-founder in 2018.

Hannes Heikinheimo, Otto's colleague, CTO, and co-founder at Speechly, showcases a rather high academic and professional portfolio. Hannes received his MSc. in Information Networks from the Helsinki University of Technology and continued his education at Teknillinen korkeakoulu - Tekniska hogskolan where he got his Doctor of Science degree in Information and Computer Science.

Owner of several licenses and certificates, Hannes holds the rights to several patents and is a published author and respected expert in his field of expertise. His professional journey started in 2002 at the Helsinki University of Technology where he got a job as a Java course assistant, and also worked as a researcher.

He has worked for eminent names like Google, Nokia, and Apple which led him to join the Speechly team of co-founders.

Four Makes Perfect

The Chief Architect at Speechly, Markus Lang, received his degree in Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. This co-founder of Speechly joined the Nokia team as an R&D Engineer in 1997. Most of his professional experience was acquired in Reaktor as the Chief Architect and Principal Consultant, after which he joined the Speechly crew.

Markus holds a certificate in principles of reactive programming and his specialties are agile methods, cloud-based systems, and open-source software.

The fourth member of this superteam and also a co-founder of Speechly is Janne Pylkkonen. He is the Chief Scientist at Speechly and an author that has been published several times. Janne received his Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science from Aalto University where he also started his professional journey as a Researcher.

He continued his career as a Research and Senior Speech Scientist at Amazon, where he spent five years before joining Speechly. His special skills include machine learning, algorithms, and speech recognition among others.

Speech is the Future

Speechly was first founded in 2016 and offered the idea that voice is the future of interaction. The four-member team used their knowledge and experience in working with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa and wished to launch an app that will be different yet fill the gap that was missing on the market.

Speechly is a simple voice user interface API for web mobile and e-commerce allowing developers to create awesome voice experiences. Years later, the team created a voice technology API as well, providing natural language understanding services and automatic speech recognition.

Speechly may be used in many industries and by a variety of users. It is a useful tool for voice filtering when searching for products online, avoiding endless menus, or filling in forms in real-time when looking for a flight.

Users find it exciting to search the web through the use of voice and see results update in real-time. They can chat easily via natural language, or have fun issuing smart home commands in real-time. You can also order your favorite meals fast - and on the spot.

Speechly is not a voice assistant, but may be used as the underlying technology of a voice assistant and may be configured for various use-cases. It provides speech-to-text conversion only through an in-house developed speech-to-text system.

Currently, English and Finnish are the only languages supported by Speechly, with planned Spanish support coming soon. However, the team is capable of adding new languages at the request of customers with advanced notice for several months.

Many users have complained that these types of voice assistants are useless because they can’t understand their accents. But continuous speech training is expected to create a text system that can identify and understand different accents and dialects.

Communication, Easier Than Ever

Considering the speed at which technology is moving today, soon we will all need one such voice assistant in the house to make our life easy. But how much is this pleasure of owning an AI voice going to cost?

Speechly for beginners is free of charge. They offer three different packages with different options that are tailored to the customer's needs.

Speechly offers two types of solutions, one for Audios Services and another for Interface. The Audio Service solution allows businesses to use a voice that will work for their business. This service uses transcription, moderation, and assistance features.

By use of the speech-to-text features, clients experience voice transcription in real-time on the user device. The moderation features protect the brand from real-time harassment, hate speech, and profanity.

The Interface solution allows for the creation of voice-enabled multimodal websites and apps. E-commerce users can use Speechly to improve product search and increase their revenue. The logistics sector can make its warehouse personnel more efficient by using Speechly’s API. At the same time, web app developers can create interactive and intuitive user-friendly experiences.

Speechly’s company motto is to be the most helpful and innovative software company that customers have had the opportunity to work with. The company is a holder of three patents and accurate patented technology.

With the use of proprietary modeling and advanced machine learning, Speechly accomplishes 95% understanding accuracy. Because it runs directly on the end-user device, it enhances privacy and reduces cloud costs. The Spoken Language Understanding reacts instantly to enable immediate feedback through direct voice interactions.

Funding the Platform

Speechly is a privately owned company with a total funding amount of $2.2 million which was raised over two rounds. The latest funding was raised through the Venture round on January 1, 2021.

Cherry Ventures is the lead investor of Speechly, along with other funding investors, Nicolas Dessaigne and TQ Ventures being the most recent ones.

Creating the Future of Speech

For the moment, Speechly has around 18 employees and a head office located in Helsinki, Finland. Due to the rising popularity of Speechly, they are also expanding and conquering the U.S. market through their office in Chicago, Illinois. The team of four has grand expectations for their platform. As part of their future plans, they intend to develop voice applications that better comprehend intent.

Another issue Speechly hopes to resolve is to give proper voices to businesses, since platforms using similar products like Alexa or Siri, allow businesses to thrive - though not in their own ecosystem, which required sharing user data without needing to.

From punch cards to keyboards and mouses, to touchscreens, voice is the latest way closer to achieving the art of communication. With Speechly’s team leading the trend, it is safe to say that the time has come for computers to roll up their sleeves and learn to understand humans - not the other way around.