WIMTACH and Avondx develop AI Transcription using Meta technology for the Retail Market

It’s generally understood that data is integral to the growth of businesses and when analyzed effectively, this information can be the key difference between a successful enterprise and a failing one. With this in mind, Avondx, a Canadian software analytics firm, was created with the goal of helping business owners understand their data and in turn, alter that information into active intelligence.

Launched in 2012 by founder Basel Tutunji, Avondx was initially centered on analytics and then the company transitioned its focus towards developing a voice analysis system, Avondx VA, to provide holistic support to retail business owners. Tutunji learned about WIMTACH at Centennial College for and approached the WIMTACH team for support in research and development for this voice analysis system. WIMTACH secured $25,000 of NSERC Engage funding and organized Centennial College faculty and students to enhance Avondx VA and its Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine. The collaborative project launched with contributions from both teams.

This technology enables retailers to authenticate and gage the performances of their employees while they are actively working in near real-time. In fact, a major feature of this technology is its ability to discern when a service agent is talking to a customer and eliminate the personal conversation of service agents while they are in communication with a customer or a colleague. More, the technology enables employers to gage length of discussions, raise attention to specific trigger words for review such as “promotions or membership” and later, analyze to improve and enhance customer service. In the end, it empowers business owners to analyze the quality of their product and service offer. “The result we are going to get is really outstanding, customers witnessed a tremendous business jump once they started using Avondx VA” said Tutunji.

In the process of developing this tool, Tutunji faced several variable challenges that posed difficulties for his team. Issues such as having poor audio quality or accents affected the accuracy of speech to text transcription. As a result, before partnering with WIMTACH, the iteration accuracy for his application was average. However, as WIMTACH integrated personalized code, Meta’s open source code Wav2vec, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and improved Natural Language Processing into his application, Avondx VA was able to better assess communication and accurately transcribe audio recordings. “There was a lot of innovation and machine learning that came into recognizing that the sentence should be transcribed correctly. So it needed machine learning, it needed NLP to eliminate the audio quality problem. The only way you can achieve that is to use advance programming and to use smart students and smart professors to do the work,” he said. Following the collaborative work with the WIMTACH team, Tutunji saw a decrease in Word Error Rate (WER) from .40 to less than .10 percent, a change which he deems to be tremendous. “We’re very happy and it makes our job much easier when it comes to transcription quality control,” he said.

The collaboration process for this partnership was also smooth. Tutunji was very pleased with the ease of communication with the WIMTACH research team despite meeting remotely and he found that the team was always readily available and flexible with changing the project to suit his business needs. As well, the Student Researchers who were especially appointed roles for this project, greatly impressed Tutunji. Students like Wonsuk Cha, Vishal Patel, Renzo Pozo and Jainil Patel had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with Machine Learning and learn about how to preprocess data as well as how to apply augmentation techniques to ultimately gain specialized knowledge of Automatic Speech Recognition. “They have proven really to be quite professional. Although they are students I can see them immediately moving into the working environment,” said Tutunji. “They have been really outstanding and in fact we have approached some of the students for a career opportunity at Avondx.”

The potential for the Avondx Natural Language Processing application is great and the future of the company is bright. The next goal for Tutunji and his team is to focus on getting Avondx VA adopted in many retail verticals such as car services and then transition to assist new industries. WIMTACH is supporting Avondx in a continued collaboration to innovate this technology. “The funding helped us with scaling so instead of dedicating one team or two team members to do the job, we would shift the work to WIMTACH and then our team can focus on the core things,” he said. “The next WIMTACH [project] with us will help innovate and improve the code and the ideas.”

Since the partnership with WIMTACH has exceeded his expectations, Tutunji hopes that other businesses will learn about the opportunities offered at WIMTACH. “I think Centennial College really offers quality work,” he said. “I would encourage more companies to approach Centennial College or maybe start exploring a WIMTACH project because for us it proved to be very reliable and very helpful.”

Avondx Inc.
Avondx is a Canadian business and software firm based in Toronto, Ontario. With a key focus on Data Analytics, Avondx helps customers turn data into active intelligence. With today’s multi-faceted business environment, informed decision-making is more critical than ever. Avondx role is to achieve insights from voice analytics by recommending and building analytical infrastructure to lead into a Big Data and help our customers make the most informed decisions based on accurate and reliable information.The team has over 15 years of experience working with leading multinational companies with a core focus in data analytics. Avondx helped large organizations plan and execute company-wide data intelligence plans across key retail sectors.

Visit the Avondx website for more information: www.avondx.com

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) funds visionaries, explorers and innovators who are searching for the scientific and technical breakthroughs that will benefit Canada. NSERC is Canada’s largest supporter of discovery and innovation. They work with universities, colleges, businesses and not-for-profits to remove barriers, develop opportunities and attract new expertise to make Canada’s research community thrive. NSERC gives Canadian scientists and engineers the means to go further because they believe in research without borders and beyond frontiers.

Visit the NSERC website for more information: https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp

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