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iFlytek applies intelligent speech technology in everyday life

Anhui USTC iFlytek Co Ltd is a software company specialised in the research of intelligent voice and language technology, the development of text-to-speech (TTS) chip products, the provision of voice information services and the integration of e-government service systems. The company works with more than 5,000 applications developers and currently takes up more than 80% of the market share in the Chinese language voice technology market. An industrial chain with iFlytek as the prominent player has started to take shape. In 2008, iFlytek was listed in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (stock code: 002230).

Founded in 1999, iFlytek has the following major shareholders: USTC Assets Management Co Ltd, Shanghai Guangxin Technology Development and Legend Capital. The company's core technologies include text-to-speech (or speech synthesis), speech recognition and speech assessment. The most critical technical parameter of a speech synthesis system is its degree of naturalness. Based on a scale of 1 to 5, the naturalness of iFlytek's English speech synthesiser has achieved grade 4 or above which is close to that of American broadcasters (4.9).

The company's speech synthesis engine also features customised speech synthesis and analogue. Its speech recognition technology is largely based on the characteristics of voiceprints to identify British English, American English, Putonghua and Cantonese, to name but a few. iFlytek is presently establishing a voiceprint database for the country's major personalities. Like DNA and fingerprints, it can be used for identification purpose in national defence or anti-terrorist programmes. Its technologies in speech assessment, speech coding, multi-tone selection, suppression of noises and speech enhancement have been extensively used in educational and information security areas. Such technology is being deployed in the Putonghua assessment tests in 27 different provinces. The company is also the sole business partner to the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

The voice synthesis, recognition and assessment technologies as well as the natural language processing methods of iFlytek are cutting-edge technologies of the world. The company has achieved top rankings at many of the international and domestic English speech synthesis, speaker and language recognition contests.

Building on the advanced, patented and intelligent speech technologies, iFlytek has applied its technologies in a wide spectrum of areas ranging from large/cluster TTS systems to tiny TTS engines for embedded devices, from telecommunications and the financial industry to business entities and end-users, from mobile phones to in-vehicle devices, and from intelligent home appliances to smart toys, satisfying the needs of different products for different applications.

As a more intelligent era of speech-interaction approaches, iFlytek has broken new ground by delivering the TTS functionality to anyone with access to a mobile web browser through the internet-based "iFlytek Voice Cloud". The company is the world's pioneer in such technology and is continuing to work on the improvement of the system. Other innovations derived from this technology include the "iFlytek speech-activated input", "iFlytek YuDian" (dubbed as Chinese Siri), and "iFlytek messaging". iFlytek cooperates with Google, Microsoft and others and brings the speech-enabled applications to areas such as mobile phones, cars, home appliances and toys. The company looks set to lead and transform the way people input information and interact with each other in this internet era.

from Eve Wang, Shanghai Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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