News 8th Jan 2020
Las Vegas skyline with buildings and blue skies for Speechmatics and w3w partnership

The what3words Voice API powered by Speechmatics offers a single API service combining automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with in-built what3words post-processing to enable more people to speak what3words addresses to voice-controlled devices.

what3words has released a new end-to-end speech recognition and post-processing API, in conjunction with Speechmatics, at the VOICE Live From CES® in Las Vegas.

The what3words Voice API allows a user to say three words into any application or service, with it returning the what3words address and corresponding GPS coordinates, all through a single API call. The Speechmatics integration provides industry-leading speech recognition and machine learning capabilities that enable new what3words languages to be built on demand. This will unlock the potential of voice devices for more people across the globe.

what3words is the simplest way to communicate precise locations. The location technology company has divided the world into a grid of 3m squares and given each square a unique address made of three words. It enables people to identify and share any precise location using just three words. what3words is the first addressing system optimized for voice input, eliminating many of the frustrations encountered when using voice to enter traditional street addresses.

Speaking a street address into a voice interface, such as an in-car navigation system, can be lengthy and frustrating. Saying ‘Take me to 241st Street’ can sound exactly the same as ‘Take me to 2, 41st Street’. Street addresses also use thousands of non-dictionary words, the pronunciation of which can be near impossible to guess. The town of Godmanchester, for example, is actually pronounced ‘Gumster’. Each what3words address is unique and similar what3words addresses are placed far apart, making user errors easy to detect and correct using the what3words AutoSuggest post-processing function.

For customers that want to quickly enable what3words-only voice search, this single API removes the commercial and technical complexity of fusing together multiple APIs, meaning developers can be up and running in a matter of hours. With the product hosted by servers across numerous key international hubs, the audio stream’s latency is low enough to respond to the user in real time.

Chris Sheldrick, CEO and Co-founder of what3words, commented, ‘The what3words Voice API in partnership with Speechmatics means that what3words address searches by voice can now all be done in this single product. This makes it the ideal solution for apps and services that want to enable simple address entry via voice, without the speech recognition ambiguity associated with address search through traditional ASR systems – duplicate names, for example.’

John Milliken, CEO of Speechmatics added that ‘Speechmatics enables its partners to innovate with voice by providing accurate speech recognition regardless of your accent and can learn new languages on demand. We’re delighted to support what3words in the launch of our combined API. Using automatic speech recognition to unlock the value in voice data is becoming more widespread and we are excited about the potential for our technology to help what3words create a new global standard for addresses.’

The what3words Voice API powered by Speechmatics currently supports English, Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, German, Arabic and Spanish.


About what3words

Co-founded in London in 2013 by Chris Sheldrick, what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. The system covers the entire world, never needs updating, and works offline. A what3words address is a human-friendly way to share very precise locations with other people or to input them into platforms and machines such as autonomous cars or e-commerce checkouts. It is optimized for voice input and contains built-in error prevention to immediately identify and correct input mistakes.

The free what3words app, available for iOS and Android, and the online map enable people to find, share and navigate to what3words addresses in 37 languages to date. A what3words address in one language can be switched instantly into any other supported language, and even looked up in one language and shared in another. what3words can be easily integrated by businesses, governments and NGOs into apps, platforms or websites, with just a few lines of code, and products are available for free or for a nominal fee for qualifying NGOs. Its partners include Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Domino’s Pizza, Lonely Planet, Airbnb and Cabify.

what3words has a team of over 120 people, across offices in London, UK, San Francisco, USA, Johannesburg, ZA and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The company has raised over £40 million in capital from investors such as Intel, Aramex, Deutsche Bahn, SAIC and the Sony Investment Fund.

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