When I walked in to SpinVox’s plush UK HQ this morning the tension in the building was obvious. Following a fortnight of controversy and allegations that the whole thing is powered not by technology but by a simple, massive, call center operation, this was the first ever live demo to the media of their famed voice to text platform. There were nervously exchanged glances and bad jokes from senior staff. But the guys managed to hold it together for long enough to usher us in to a conference room and ply us with pastries. We were not asked to sign an NDA, but we were asked not to record anything that happened in the room. Ironic, really – and the reason that some media declined the invitation.
CIO Rob Wheatley took us through a technical explanation that, while honest about the existence of human agents in the process, didn’t give away as many secrets as he made out, before leaping to what we all came for: the demo.
The big technical question surrounding SpinVox – the one they refuse to answer (as they did again today) – is what proportion of the messages they process are seen by a human being. Whatever the answer their backers are clearly convinced: today they raised another $25 million (£15 million) from existing investors.
So what happened in the demo, and what can we infer from it about those proportions?