Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Amazon adds Arabic service to its text-to-speech platform

Service will allow regional small businesses to build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products

Dr. Werner Vogels, chief technology officer of Amazon.com, while giving keynote speech in Dubai. Courtesy: Amazon
Dr. Werner Vogels, chief technology officer of Amazon.com, while giving keynote speech in Dubai. Courtesy: Amazon

To focus more on the Middle East market, Amazon has added Arabic language support to Amazon Polly – a service that turns simple text into lifelike-sounding speech - Seattle-based company announced during its summit in Dubai on Wednesday.

Launched in November 2016, Amazon Polly is a cloud service that converts written content, coming from any platform, into aural speech. It allows users and small businesses to create applications that communicate and eventually build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products.

“The service now turns Arabic text into speech using a female voice named Zeina,” said Werner Vogels, chief technology officer of Amazon.com, during his keynote speech.

“It [Amazon Polly] uses advanced deep-learning technologies to offer a range of nearly 59 voices in 29 languages,” he added.

According to estimates, Arabic is spoken by more than 280 million people worldwide as their primary language and is the official language of more than 20 countries.

Using Amazon Polly, Middle East users can select the ideal voice and build speech-enabled applications that work in different geographies, said Mr Vogels.

With this new addition, Amazon Web Services is looking to help regional businesses to diversify by creating speech applications and voice-enabled products. It could also prove handy for regional e-learning platforms in expanding their reach. Marketing professionals can also use it to include audio to their content strategy, for example, start-ups can create an entire podcast, using Amazon Polly, to reach a potentially global audience.

AWS, which is catering to various regional customers such as Al Tayyar Travel Group, flydubai, Union Insurance, Careem, StarzPlay, Anghami and Sarwa, has already announced it will open at least three data centres in Bahrain to serve customers across the Middle East region. This will bring affordable and secure cloud computing technologies close to end users across the region and will help organisations speed up their digital transformation initiatives and more rapidly innovate for the citizens of the region.

Jordanian start-up Mawdoo3, which provides the largest Arabic-language content platform in the world, is already running its AI initiatives on AWS to develop Arabic voice-to-text services in the region.

Updated: April 28, 2019 10:14 AM

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