Flipkart logo stands at the entrance of its office in Bengaluru, India. (Photographer: Anirudh Saligrama/ BloombergQuint)

Flipkart Buys Speech Recognition Startup Liv.ai

Flipkart has acquired artificial intelligence startup Liv.ai, which has built a platform that translates speech to text, for an undisclosed amount as the country’s largest e-retailer looks to overcome language barriers.

Co-Founders Subodh Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar and Kishore Mundra, along with the entire team of Liv.ai, will join Flipkart as part of the deal, the Walmart backed e-commerce firm said in a statement.

This comes after rival Amazon.com Inc. made in-roads in voice and speech-recognition technology in form of its AI-powered virtual assistant Alexa.

With this acquisition, Flipkart is targeting the next 100 million internet users in tier-2 and 3 cities, Chief Executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy said. “Seventy percent of these internet users are native or vernacular language speakers.” This (voice) expertise, he said, is a big capability add-on for Flipkart. “We want to give our customers a conversational e-commerce.”

Founded in 2015, Liv.ai’s technology converts speech to text in Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

“With Liv.ai, we’re one step closer making e-commerce accessible to emerging users,” Krishnamurthy said.

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