Spinvox Uses Technology And People : So What?

The premature downfall of Spinvox was caused by a single person, BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones; he found out that Spinvox was using real people together with its proprietary voice to text platform to get things done.

D2 (as in R2-D2) otherwise known as the Brain apparently learns from its mistakes when being force fed millions of minutes of voicemails by its masters. Christina Domecq, the company's boss, told the Guardian that humans intervened to "add words to its database when discrepancies arise".

She said that the company was "under sustained" attack from some former employees, further adding that the "The ratio of humans to messages and humans to number of users is very, very low" and that the majority of calls are fully automated.

The problem and the subsequent BBC article mentions is, is that the company, as explained by the Information Commissioner Office, may be helpful if Spinvox is clearer about the likelihood that people will be used to translate messages.

The last few months have apparently been a bit exhausting for the company and clearly the fact that Cellan-Jones did not approach the company to provide with a balanced view did not help.

(ed: Spinvox did approach Rory Cellan-Jones and said that the claims were "incorrect" and "inaccurate", adding that "Speech algorithms do not learn without human intervention and all speech systems require humans for learning - Spinvox does this in real-time").

To make things worse, the company had apparently coerced its staff to accept share options rather than being cash in an effort to cut mounting costs.

And this is what caused the downfall of Spinvox. Rory Cellan-Jones has been using the system for quite some times, by his own admission, and that quality has been decreasing as the company expanded. So as any good journalist would do, he investigated and the plot unravelled.

The bottom line is that Spinvox as it stands looks more and more like a failure, one which is likely to cost more than £100 million. Domecq herself acknowledged that the company has been spending too much on call centres and their hundreds of employees.

Some of which have taken the unfortunate step (at least for the company) of going publishing details of some of the transcripts they worked on, on Facebook, showing the pitfalls of outsourcing.

Now, another company is working on a completely automated voice to text system, that company is not Nuance, the firm which acquired IBM's technology patents earlier this year, no, that company is GrandCentral, otherwise known as Google Voice.