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If you’re like us, you can’t believe that 2018 is already coming to a close. The past year was a whirlwind of growth for the voice-first industry. Voice Assistant adoption has increased across all devices from smartphones to smart speakers and is only expected to grow in 2019. The proof is in the numbers:

  • Smart speaker usage in the U.S. rose to 22.9% of the adult population (read: 57.8 million people)
  • As of September 2018, U.S. households average 2.2 smart devices, up from 1.8 in January 2018
  • Though smart speakers are on the rise, smartphone use of voice assistants is still king with 90.1 million monthly active users (Voicebot.ai)

With such staggering stats, it is also interesting to take a look at what users are looking for when conducting voice searches.

Us here at Audioburst see the current voice market as full of potential. We spent 2018 developing meaningful partnerships, data-driven products, and growing our company to meet the needs of a global community that is hungry for a more dynamic, contextual, and personalized listening experience.

It was a phenomenal year, and we wanted to take a moment to show you just what we’ve been up to over the past 12 months.

Creating a Voice Ecosystem: A Look at Partnerships and Funding

In this world, you’re nothing without friends. In 2018 Audioburst was proud to announce a host of new strategic partnerships that further our mission of providing companies with the ability to create a more personalized, relevant, screen-free to take audio experience for their customers.

Here are a few of the new collaborations we formed this year:

  • HarmanIntegration of Audioburst’s technology into the Harman Ignite Platform, providing drivers and passengers with access to our extensive audio content library as well as a new personalized “Commute Channel” created on-demand for each listener based on listening identity and driving situation.
  • SamsungAnnounced plans to bring Audioburst Search and our brand of customized on-demand audio to a host of in-home products, beginning with Smart TVs.
  • Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc.Joined together with Nippon Broadcasting to begin the process of localizing Audioburst technology for the Japanese market.
  • TopBuzz / News Republic (Bytedance) / Radioline – Introduced the Audioburst listening experience to these popular platforms.
  • LG ElectronicsUnveiled plans to partner on in-car infotainment, an experience which will feature our latest product offering ‘Audioburst Deep Analysis.’ Expect to hear more about this at CES 2019!

In addition to these strategic partnerships, our financing also rose to $14.4 million through investments by Samsung Ventures ($4.5M) and Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc. ($3M).

There’s No “I” in Team… or Product!

Everyone at Audioburst works hard, but we want to hit pause and give a heartfelt shoutout to our Product and R&D teams. They figure out what the market needs before companies even know they need it and then they translate that into innovative and cutting-edge products for the smarter consumption of audio.

While the list of accomplishments for 2018 is quite long, here are some of the more notable items we launched this year:

  • Audioburst Creators – A platform for content creators containing powerful tools for increased distribution, monetization, and promotion of their content.
  • Audioburst Search – We launched Personalized Playlists and updated the site to allow for search by both ‘burst’ (aka bite-sized audio clip) and ‘show title’.
  • News Feed Skill / Action – Debuted local weather and traffic features, as well as introduced the ‘Personal Playlist’ to the News Feed experience.

 

  • Audioburst APIs – Announced LG Electronics would be the first to utilize our newest product offering, ‘Audioburst Deep Analysis,’ an API which adds an additional level of metadata categorization and provides a more in-depth understanding of the content being searched for and enjoyed in real-time.

Gaining Momentum: Stats, Growth, and Culture

On a lighter note, we want to share with you some stuff we’re excited about, including accomplishments we’re proud of, our new digs spanning multiple continents, and a few funny bursts that made us smile.

  • New locales as a springboard into new markets – As part of our global expansion, we opened our first offices in New York and Japan, as well as found a new location for our home office in Tel Aviv.

  • Content that goes off the beaten path – You’re probably familiar with most of our content categories, such as Tech, Business, Entertainment, etc. However, you may have missed our newest addition, the ‘Off Beat’ category, bringing you audio that is fun, quirky, and fresh.

We asked the team to share a few of their favorite ‘Off Beat’ bursts from 2018. Check ‘em out!

‘Emotional support’ squirrel and owner ousted from flight:

The Worst Robbers in Belgium:

MIT researchers use Reddit to create the first “psychopath AI”:

And that’s a wrap!

With 2018, winding down, we’ve already set our sights on busy 2019: new and exciting partnerships are soon to be announced, localization of our technology into additional countries and languages, product and feature launches, fresh content sources on the platform, and much, much more.

Our compass points us towards the manner in which we can best help our partners serve the needs of their users. The push to an innately personalized, contextual, data-driven experience is the clear and distinct path forward. In an era of multi-tasking, consumers of content are stingy with their attention. What they choose to ingest must clearly add value to their lives. Content must be relevant to the individual, easily accessible, and to the point.

To fully realize this requirement, a company’s relationship with their customers must be an intimate one. As voice and smart technology continue to embed themselves into our everyday lives, from phones to cars, to microwave ovens, companies are gaining the insights needed to finally build that type of deep bond with their users.

It’s an exciting time for both companies and consumers alike; a promising future lies ahead!

 

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere these days. From chatbots to autonomous cars to our very own search platform, computers are working hard to help improve everyday life. But how do they do it, exactly?

We thought it’d be fun to give you a short primer on how AI aides Audioburst in our mission to organize the world’s audio content.

Algorithms

 

In order to provide you with the best search results possible, our engineers have come up with a set of algorithms.

An algorithm is basically a set of rules used to resolve a problem….kind of like learning PEMDAS back in your high school Algebra class. A mathematical algorithm, like the order of operations, gives you instruction on how to solve a math problem. Quite similarly, a programming algorithm is a set of problem-solving instructions given to a computer to assist in attaining a desired result in a computer application.

In the case of Audioburst, that means that we have developed a set of algorithms based in two branches of AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning, which take different factors (trending stories, topics of interest, listening habits, intent, etc) into consideration when deciding what audio ‘bursts’ we provide when you query Audioburst Search or News Feed, our Google Assistant / Alexa skill.  

Natural Language Processing

 

In order for the system to be able to produce search results, it needs to understand the meaning of the search terms, but even more importantly, the content of all of the possible results. This is where the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology comes into play. NLP is a type of artificial intelligence that facilitates communication between people and computers using human language. A subset of NLP is Natural Language Understanding (NLU). NLU dials in on the comprehension aspects of natural language communication. It’s important because it isn’t enough to just have a basic vocabulary with the ability to complete simple conversations. You also need the ability to determine the intent of the language if you are going to successfully communicate without excessive mistakes.  

By harnessing the power of NLP and NLU, Audioburst is able to listen to, understand, segment and index millions of minutes of daily talk content from thousands of top audio sources including radio, podcasts, and TV in real time. This thorough analysis is part of what makes Audioburst so special. We don’t just take your request for audio based on a certain topic, event, or keyword and match it up with news headlines trending on text-based search engines. Instead, this deep understanding of both content and user need aids our platform in providing the right story, at right time, from the right sources.

Machine Learning

 

Machine Learning is AI that allows a computer to analyze data and use statistics in order to improve its ability to perform a specific task, or “learn” without being directly aided by programmers.

Audioburst’s platform is constantly learning. Using the above mentioned NLP and NLU technology we already have a deep understanding of what is happening in the news. However simply knowing what’s in the news isn’t enough to provide the best results. Just like with real human interaction, you also need to consider context, intent, and tone in order to know exactly what a listener is looking for in a response.

For example, let’s take a look at the ambiguous potential of the search term ‘Kim.’ It’s included in both stories about the infamous North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, but it can also found just as plentifully in stories about reality TV star, Kim Kardashian. Our AI is extremely versed in both world news and politics, as well as entertainment and juicy celebrity gossip. When audio content about either of the ‘Kims’ is received, the platform is able to categorize them into their appropriate categories. That in itself is extremely helpful, but it gets better: even in a week where President Trump has both Kims appearing in his news coverage, Audioburst can still track and associate each story with its appropriate context.

That is just one example.

Machine learning is also the technology that helps us identify new stories. In this case, we’re going to focus on the search term ‘Michael.’ Most of the time, a user searching for information about Michael is going to be looking for information on a famous person, such as Michael Jackson, or Michael Jordan. However, last month when a powerful hurricane formed in the Atlantic, the next name on the World Meteorological Organization’s Tropical Cyclone Names list for the region happened to also be ‘Michael.’ Within moments of Hurricane Michael news hitting the airwaves and being indexed by Audioburst, a query to our platform for “Any news about Michael?” suddenly had a completely different meaning. Through the power of machine learning, our AI made sure that users seeking pertinent information about the powerful storm were hearing the most up to date information about the correct Michael at a time when accessing that news was critical.

As you can see, our AI is an extremely powerful tool that helps drown out the noise, surfacing only the most relevant information. With each search interaction, the platform learns more about the user, and their preferences, interests, and habits teach the system how to provide more accurate and meaningful results. When you combine this strong understanding of the individual with the ability to process audio in real-time,  you create the experience that has made Audioburst untouchable in the realm of audio search.

 

The #AskNewsFeed Challenge

 

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into how AI is powering the next generation of audio here at Audioburst. We also wanted to take a moment to let you know about a fun event we are currently running.

The #AskNewsFeed Challenge is a contest that helps us challenge and stretch the boundaries of our AI by inviting you to do your best to stump our Google Assistant / Alexa skill, News Feed.

The contest is on now, however you can still register here, with full details on our blog. We feel pretty confident in our AI’s abilities, so hit us with your best shot!

 

Alexa is a Content and Social Media Specialist at Audioburst. Previously Alexa has held roles at companies such as Intel and the fitness watch company, Basis Science.