New Telegraph

February 25, 2024

Firm denies turning call centre voices ‘white’

 

 

A Silicon Valley start-up has developed technology that can change the accents of call centre workers in real time.

The company, Sanas, has told the BBC that its technology could overcome accent-based prejudice and reduce racist abuse faced by staff.

But some critics have called it a move in the wrong direction and say language diversity should be celebrated.

News site SFGATE accused Sanas of making the agents, many of whom are from the global south, “sound white”.

Sanas, which has reportedly received $32m in funding since June 2022, describes its technology as an accent translation tool.

learn about American culture and use an American accent.

Ms Yadav also spoke to two people with more recent experience of call centres about Sanas’ technology.

Both said they felt the technology was a good idea. One spoke of “abuse” they received from some Americans they called who could not understand their accent.

Another said: “It was always difficult to get the grammar right, the pronunciation right, the lingo right, the slang right. So it used to be an added pressure to get the accent as well.”

However, that individual felt the industry had moved on from preferring American accents and that many companies now expected something more “neutral”.

Sanas said its purpose was to improve communication wherever accent might present a barrier.

It said firms were testing the technology for internal use, to ease communication between teams in Korea and the US or between teams in North and South India.

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