Look out language teachers, a synthetic human could be about to take your job

Hour One, a startup that allows businesses to create ‘photoreal’ presenters that can speak pre-set any text or any language in a highly realistic manner, has signed a deal with Berlitz. The language learning giant will use the platform to augment its instructor-led services and grow its online language training programs in a way that would normally be impossible, without hiring thousands of human teachers.

“Berlitz has built our methodology and brand on delivering the best outcomes for students serious about fluency, which requires a very human-centric experience,” Curt Uehlein, Berlitz’s CEO, said in a statement. “Our digital experiences had to replicate the classroom experience. Doing that successfully means Berlitz can extend our reach into new markets, and be more accessible to students, removing barriers of location and affordability.”

Hour One has been able to almost recreate the in-person instructor experience for Berlitz, with highly-realistic photoreal characters who have (in my opinion) very natural facial expressions and gestures, and – crucially – perfectly synced speech. I’ve seen the software in operation myself and it is extremely convincing. Instead of course content being created in a studio with a human speaker, it can now be generated using AI. Look out language teachers…

Oren Aharon, CEO, Hour One said: “Where other brands keep innovation at the periphery, Berlitz has fully embraced our technology to scale its business and propel it into the new era.”

Originally from Israel and new in New York, Hour One has raised $5 million from Galaxy Interactive, Kindred Ventures and Remagine Ventures.

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