Interview with Nigel Cannings, CTO at Speech Technology Company: Intelligent Voice

Intelligent Voice is speech technology company focused on privacy-sensitive clients who deal with audio data that they don’t want to get into the public cloud—the police, prisons, government, legal, insurance and financial services.

We deploy cloud-like systems on-premises, in a data centre or in private, customer-controlled, clouds. We have SaaS services, but these are not publicly accessible.

Intelligent Voice isn’t just speech recognition. Our technology helps people understand and review their audio and video content more easily. Our patented Natural Language Programming (NLP) technology picks out what is important from audio files. Myna, our new service, can capture online meetings and then email a ‘SmartTranscript’ to clients, giving them insights into what was said and what was important.
Intelligent Voice | App Hub

How did you come to start the company?

I got into voice and NLP because I wrote a Twitter trending tool before Twitter did. The insights it gave me into unstructured information came as a surprise. Conversational telephone conversations are not too dissimilar as they are unstructured and choppy, so I wondered if I could get similar data out of them, which led me to voice recognition technology. I then started improving the speed and robustness of the technology.

I started the business in 2008 during the global financial crisis. Back then, I thought banks would love early warnings of potential trader abuse in the future, so I extended the voice and NLP technology I had developed to include email and IM conversations as well, producing a holistic monitoring tool for banks.


What advice would you give other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Creating your own company is tough. It can have serious effects on your mental health, your finances and your relationships.

Also, it usually takes a long time to become an overnight success… One day, you might wake up and realise that you’ve built something that no-one else has ever built, you’ve generated jobs for people, and that customers have paid money for something that at one time only existed in your head.

You won’t please everyone but try hard to do deals that benefit everyone involved, treat your business partners fairly, and try to have fun along the way. A smile can build trust and rapport. Screwing people over is not going to benefit you or your business in the long term.

What can we hope to see from Intelligent Voice in the future?

2020 has been a crazy year for us. Suddenly everyone is on Zoom or in Teams, and companies need the solutions we provide in order to be compliant and productive.

We try to have products in the pipeline that are years ahead of the market. Next year we’re going to release our encrypted cloud speech processing to allow customers to process speech to text in the cloud secure in the knowledge that no-one can ever see what was said, or the results.

We hope this will help build trust in public cloud speech recognition, and we’re also moving into telehealth.

VR/AR meeting rooms have long been my obsession. Now seems the right time to take on Zoom meetings and decouple the dreaded video camera from the experience. We’re using the voice to animate an avatar in a realistic environment, meaning you can be present in a meeting without worrying that the camera will catch you slurping coffee or picking your nose…