The streaming media giant spotify is famous for its music and podcast streaming services for consumers. It is acquiring a voice artificial intelligence company to expand its influence in audio technology - which opens the door not only to spotify itself to build more functions, but also to potential business opportunities elsewhere. On Monday, the company announced that it was acquiring sonantic, a London based start-up that has built an artificial intelligence engine to create very realistic sounds from text, but also simulated human sounds**
You may not know the name sonantic, but you may have seen its works. The purpose of the company is to establish a lifelike voice service based on artificial intelligence for games and entertainment environments. Its technology helps actor Val Kilmer's voice become vivid in top gun 2: Lone Ranger. In real life, because of throat cancer, the actor could not speak as he used to; Therefore, in the sequel, he played the "Iceman" again, and his situation and the analog sound created by sonantic were written into the plot of the film.
The two companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction. Sonantic has raised less than $3million from an interesting group of investors, including EQT ventures, entrepreneur first (EF), ame cloud ventures, Bart Swanson of horizons ventures, Kevin Lin of twitch, Jeremy Jap, Charles Jolley, etc.
It is also unclear what the timing of the acquisition is, whether it is due to the start-up companies seeking more funds, or the success of high-profile film exposure, or entirely for other reasons.
"We have known sonantic's technology for some time," a spokesman said in response to the question. He also said that the entire sonantic team will work in the "consumer and platform Bu in personalized tasks" led by Ziad Sultan, who is the VP of personalization at spotify.
Sultan said in a statement: "we are very excited about the potential of introducing sonantic's AI voice technology into the spotify platform and creating new experiences for our users. This integration will enable us to attract users in a new and even more personalized way."
Spotify pointed out in a blog post that it sees "several potential opportunities to use text to voice functions on our platform". On the surface, the most direct application of this technology is indeed spotify itself, especially when it further extends its influence to a new environment where consumers can't immerse themselves in screen interaction - for example, in vehicles, through car thing and other services launched earlier this year.
An example given by spotify that may use this technology is that the use of artificial intelligence voice can bring more audio based recommendations and descriptions to users who do not look at the screen - for example, for users who listen while driving a car or doing other activities but cannot look at the screen.
"We believe that in the long run, high-quality voice will be very important to increase our listening share," it said.
It is worth considering what plans spotify may have for sonantic's existing businesses. If so, these businesses will focus on more B2B business lines. Techcrunch noted when the company announced financing last time that it has established 10 R & D partnerships with AAA game studios, and it often participates in activities such as GDC.
"As for sonantic's existing business relationship, we are still working with sonantic, but as far as the current situation is concerned, the business is as usual," the spokesman said.
For companies like spotify, artificial intelligence built to simulate sound is a very interesting technology, and there may be many other applications.
Considering the company's investment in podcasting to supplement music and the tools established for creators, including those engaged in podcasting, as well as music production and music production, it is possible to use the things established by sonantic to develop tools that creators can use, either to make the business of podcasting easier, or to consider a new type of interaction with their listeners.
At the same time, spotify can continue the relationship between sonantic and game and entertainment studios, which represents a new front for spotify in how to diversify its business with more enterprise oriented B2B products. So far, spotify has not done much in this field, but it is still an important field in which it may grow and mature.