Sanas, a Palo Alto, CA-based technology startup, received $32 million in Series A funding, according to an announcement earlier this week.
The company, which has developed a speech translation program that focuses on translating speakers’ accents within the same language, claims to be the first of its kind. Local news outlet, The San Francisco Examiner reported earlier this week that Sanas’ technology is being marketed largely for use in customer service call centers, in order to improve efficiency and comprehension of conversation between English speakers and individuals who do not speak the language natively.
“Similar to how social media platforms allow users to control the way they physically appear online, this technology enables anyone to have that same control in a digital setting – but for the way they sound,” said Maxim Serebryakov, the company’s CEO, in the startup’s June 22 announcement. “With this funding, we’ll be able to further our mission and build on our AI, which is taking advantage of a cutting-edge space in machine learning untapped until Sanas.”
Among the investors in this round include Insight Partners, Assurant Ventures, Human Capital, and more. Sanas also announced a new partnership with Alorica, a company which allows other companies to outsource their customer experience solutions. Alorica will use Sanas’ technology with 100,000 employees located across the world.
“We are excited to invest in our strategic partnership with Sanas and leverage their powerful linguistic translation capabilities to provide the very best CX outcomes possible in real time, at scale and without barriers, regardless of native accents and dialects,” said Andy Lee, the founder and executive chairman of Alorica.
Although the practice of covering up an individual’s accent — and therefore, an aspect of their identity — could be a somewhat controversial move, one San Francisco attorney told the SF Examiner that the product actually has the potential to mitigate discrimination that individuals may face for their non-native accents. Serebryakov assured that the company takes the ethical issues of its product seriously and will be publishing its ethical code on its website in the near future.
“The goal of Sanas has always been to bring people closer together and allow people to have a choice when it comes to their communication style — something that was previously only possible through extensive speech language pathology,” Serebryakov said.