TalkerNet Opens London Office

[JANUARY 21] – TalkerNet is opening a London office, its first base outside Israel, from where it plans to introduce Europe to its voice access platform for mobile Internet.
“WAP works for specific things. Our technology breaks down all the barriers [facing mobile Internet access],” said TalkerNet chief executive, Ronen Dvashi. “Voice access means that if you talk to the system, the system talks back to you. You need a huge amount of technology to do this, and it doesnt exist today.”

“There are ‘voice portals’ such as TellMe, BeVocal and Quack,” he said, “but these companies have to prepare a directory of services in advance.”

TalkerNet’s platform, Surf On Mobile, is based on its Total Voice technology, and does not require advance preparation of Internet sites, such as rewriting them in Voice XML, the voice version of HTML, said Dvashi.

The platform, which is a software-hardware combination, slots into a mobile operators network and voice-activates websites in real time.

The technology analyzes the requested webpage and turns it into a collection of speech objects, creating a voice menu on-the-fly. The user chooses by issuing voice commands, currently limited to up to three words, and the content of the page is read to them over their mobile phone.

The technology will be ready for beta trials in the next six weeks, and TalkerNet is currently in negotiations with potential test partners in Israel, Europe (the company’s main target market) and the U.S.

TalkerNet was established officially in April 2000, when it raised half a million dollars in seed funding from angel investors, although research and development has been ongoing for the past 18 months.

The company, which has 10 employees and will soon be adding one more in the new London office, is currently in the midst of a $3 million round of funding and is looking for strategic partners.

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