RingCentral acquires DeepAffects as more biometrics integrated to improve online meetings
RingCentral has acquired conversational intelligence provider DeepAffects to bring its multi-speaker biometric voice recognition, emotion recognition, real-time closed captioning and other capabilities to RingCentral’s video conferencing solution.
DeepAffects’ artificial intelligence technologies will enable RingCentral to enhance the pre-meeting, in-meeting, and post-meeting experience of its customers, according to the announcement.
“As businesses shift to a hybrid model with employees working both in-office and remotely, it has never been more important to equip them with tools and insights that make meetings more engaging and productive,” says Anand Eswaran, president and chief operating officer at RingCentral. “With DeepAffects, we will bring conversational speech analysis and emotional sentiment recognition to our platform to deliver a differentiated, best-in-class meetings experience for our customers.”
The acquisition gives RingCentral the capability developed by DeepAffects to identify speakers with voice recognition at precisely the time they speak in a meeting, and in addition to biometrics gives the video meeting platform core emotion and sentiment recognition based on voice data, and speech recognition with accent detection that works with multiple languages. The companies say the latter feature can transcribe audio with very high accuracy, even for non-native English speakers.
The terms of the deal, which closed in Q4 2020 and is not expected to materially impact finances for the year, were not disclosed.
Microsoft patent granted as startups pile in
The feature was unveiled last year, and allows managers to individuals’ use of Microsoft Office 365 software.
The ‘meeting-insight computing system’ patented could identify the attendees in a meeting with biometrics, record body language and facial expressions and how much time each person spends talking, and identify speech patterns associated with boredom and fatigue. Scores can then be generated for how effective the meeting was.
The BBC reports that critics argue the technology is an intrusive employee surveillance tool, and is based on a false premise that there is a consistent standard way in which people work effectively.
Startups from around the tech industry are tackling virtual meetings with a range of technologies from schedule automation to face biometrics, according to Wired, as the shortcomings of in-person meetings are replicated and added-to in the online realm.
Video conferencing platform Headroom can transcribe the speech during a meeting with voice biometrics, and analyze it for key topics, dates and ideas. The platform also uses emotion recognition to generate emojis reflecting the response of participants to what is going on in the meeting.