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Snips lets you build your own voice assistant to embed into your devices

Snips lets you build your own voice assistant to embed into your devices
From TechCrunch - November 22, 2017

French startup Snips is now helping you build a custom voice assistant for your device. Snips doesnt use Amazons Alexa Voice Service or Google Assistant SDKthe company is building its own voice assistant so that you can embed it on your devices. And the best part is that it doesnt send anything to the cloud as it works offline.

If you want to understand how a voice assistant works, you can split it into multiple parts. First, it starts with a wakeword. Snips has a handful of wakewords by default, such as Hey Snips, but you can also pay the company to create your own wakeword.

For instance, if youre building a multimedia robot called Keecker, you can create a custom Hey Keecker hot word. Snips then uses deep learning to accurately detect when someone is trying to talk to your voice assistant.

The second part is automatic speech recognition. A voice assistant transcribes your voice into a text query. Popular home assistants usually send a small audio file with your voice and use servers to transcribe your query.

Snips can transcribe your voice into text on the device itself. It works on anything that is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi. For now, Snips is limited to English and French. Youll have to use a third-party automatic speech recognition API for other languages.

Then, Snips needs to understand your query. The company has developed natural language capabilities. But there are hundreds, or even thousands of different ways to ask a simple question about the weather for instance.

Thats why Snips is launching a data generation service today. I saw a demo yesterday, and the interface looks like Automator on macOS or Workflow on iOS. You define some variables, such as date and location, you define if they are mandatory for the query and you enter a few examples.

But instead of manually entering hundreds of variations of the same query, you can pay $100 to $800 to let Snips do the work for you. The startup manually checks your request then posts it on Amazon Mechanical Turk and other crowdsourcing marketplaces. Finally, Snips cleans up your data set and sends it back to you.

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