Peter-Paul de Leeuw is the founder of AmberScript, which since 2017 provides services for the fast and cheap conversion of speech-to-text. Since its establishment in late 2017, around 6000 journalists, translators, doctors, lawyers and researchers have used AmberScript. “Writing out interviews is an unpleasant activity that needs to be done. How convenient is it to have audio and video files immediately available as editable text? “
What is AmberScript? What does it do?
“AmberScript is software that uses speech recognition technology to convert speech easily, quickly and automatically into text. We use our own engines and an editor. The engines can convert sound recordings to written word with a 95% accuracy, and the editor helps to polish the last inaccuracies. The poorer the quality of the audio, the worse the automatic transcription is. “
How does it work exactly?
“You upload your audio or video file in the editor and the transcription happens in a matter of minutes. Once it is ready, you will receive a message. The editor then “sticks” the transcript to the file you submitted. This way you can easily make corrections while listening to the accompanying recording. When done editing, the result can be shared in different file formats. You can also have the editing done by our transcribers to save you more time. By using our tool, transcription can be done faster and cheaper than other transcription agencies.”
Why have you founded AmberScript? Where did the idea originate?
“During my study, I felt that the manual transcription of interviews was a punishment. At the same time, I saw that in English and Chinese there are excellent speech recognition solutions available. The Netherlands and Europe have a significant backlog in this regard – we are trying to close this innovation gap. That’s why I started working with artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
When did you realize that AmberScript is a viable concept?
“I met an investor active in the AI-related field, and thanks to them we could quickly release AmberScript in beta form. This way we got feedback from users, and since then we have adjusted our product and are continuing to do that. The willingness to help and the enthusiastic reactions convinced us of the usefulness of our services.”
What do you expect from your participation in the AIA’18? Why have you registered?
“A place on the podium of the Accenture Innovation Awards would of course feel great. I want to meet people who are interested in our product (such as consultants whom it would save a lot of time) and involve them in this innovation. At the AIA, I would like to discuss the possibility of immediately drawing up minutes from interviews and meetings.”
What are your challenges now, what are you up to?
“Our current challenge is leading growth in the right direction. We are a team of five and have 700 paying users. If we then get asked to work on improving transcripts for over a hundred hours, as happened last time, then that requires a lot of creativity. Another difficulty is that too many opportunities to use our speech-to-text engines appear. How do you determine quickly and efficiently whether a chance yields something or not? Finally, in the future we of course intend to reach 100% accuracy of our engine, also for less professionally recorded interviews. We are hence constantly developing our engine.”
What kinds of trends do you see in the market of AmberScript in the coming years?
“That speech-to-text machines will only improve in quality and the human factor in transcriptions will be less common. The added value is increasingly found in the analysis of transcriptions from which, for example, conversation reports and memos are generated. Great successes can be made here, not only in the Netherlands but also elsewhere in Europe, which gives us many opportunities thanks to the diversity of languages.”
What is your best advice to entrepreneurs?
“Stay determined. Don’t give up on your dreams too quickly if you fail once. I had many projects before AmberScript. People often have a narrow vision and they call entrepreneurs lucky if it seems that their company is ‘suddenly’ successful. That is not the case; you must work very hard to succeed.”