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Speechly, a start-up company established in Helsinki in 2016, has developed technology that allows software developers to easily add an intuitive voice interface to any platform, whether it be Android, iOS, website or video game. The company believes that voice control will become more common in the same way as touch screens did after the iPhone was launched.

However, building speech interfaces is difficult. Current solutions on the market are able to perform fairly simple functions, such as playing Spotify and turning lights on and off. Speechly combines speech recognition with the technology of understanding natural language in a new way to offer a comprehensive solution that enables more complex voice control commands and responds to users’ needs.

Business Finland supports AI in business

In spite of its size, early-stage growth company Speechly is competing with the world’s largest tech giants where some of Speechly’s people have worked in the past. To strengthen their competitive advantage, the company sought support for product development from Business Finland’s AI Business program, allowing them access to CSC’s computing resources free of charge with the AI Computing Grant.

The AI Business program is intended for all Finnish companies aiming at growing their digital service business in the global market. Through the program, Business Finland can award AI computing grants to SMEs and start-ups for the implementation of significant AI research projects whose computing costs exceed EUR 20,000. The program also offers many other benefits to companies, research organizations and the public sector.

Supercomputer accelerating product development

Speechly’s product development work involves testing different machine learning algorithms to find the best speech recognition models.

– During the nine-month AI Business project, Speechly improved the accuracy of its speech recognition model by almost 60% in terms of word error rate, says Hannes Heikinheimo, Speechly CTO and co-founder.

In addition, at the turn of August and September, the company will publish an article on the results of the project at Interspeech, the biggest conference in the field, and has submitted three applications for technology patents in the US market.

Speed is an asset in product development, as training one model can take anything from days to weeks. Speechly used CSC’s Puhti-AI computing environment, making it possible to work faster and utilize larger sets of data. The experience was also informative for CSC in preparing for the introduction of the pan-European LUMI supercomputer.

More computing resources for companies with LUMI

The LUMI supercomputer is a joint investment by ten European countries and the EU’s EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, to be placed in CSC’s data center in Kajaani, Finland. The construction work is now finished and the supercomputer provided by Hewlett Packard Enterprise will soon be installed. LUMI will be one of the world’s fastest supercomputers and most advanced platforms for AI. The entire new computing environment will be available to academic researchers and business customers at the beginning of 2022.

20% of LUMI’s computing capacity is reserved for companies, which opens up new development opportunities for data-intensive business and improves Europe’s competitiveness as a whole.

– At this stage, it is important to understand the user need of business-driven research projects, and in this respect, the Speechly project has given us valuable experience for the future, says CSC Development Manager Dan Still.

– We are looking forward to LUMI being launched. Based on the results we have had with Puhti, we can expect great results once we get started with LUMI, predicts Heikinheimo.

Stay tuned and see how the LUMI implementation moves forward!

Writer: Anu Märkälä