Dubai AI start-up that live-translated Djokovic at Australian Open seeks global growth

Camb.ai expects the emirate to become the 'dubbing capital' of the world

Avneesh Prakash, co-founder and chief executive of Dubai start-up Camb.ai, said the company is eyeing overseas expansion. Photo: Camb.ai
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Camb.ai, the Dubai-based live translation and dubbing start-up, expects the emirate to become the "dubbing capital" of the world, banking on the potential of generative artificial intelligence and expected growth in demand for such technology, its co-founder and chief executive has said.

The company, which gained attention for the live translation it provided for a press conference of men's tennis world No 1 Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open last month, aims to grow out of the UAE and expand into overseas markets, Avneesh Prakash told The National.

"We have a global expansion plan, for sure ... we want to grow the business [in the UAE and Middle East], in the US and a few other regions," he said in an interview on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Camb.ai announced it had closed a $4 million seed-funding round, led by New York-based Courtside Ventures, along with an investor group comprising TRTL Ventures, Blue Star Innovation Partners, Ikemori Ventures and Eisaburo Maeda.

The Dubai Future District Fund was of the early investors in Camb.ai, which was part of the Dubai Future Accelerator cohort last year and is among the companies in the Future 100 initiative launched in December 2022.

"The traction we're getting in the market is overwhelming, encouraging us to go at an even faster pace ... part of the funding that we've received will go into accelerating our technology and growth across the world," Mr Prakash said.

Aside from Tennis Australia, the organiser of the sport's first Grand Slam tournament of the year, another significant partnership of Camb.ai is its tie-up with Major League Soccer in the US, for which it is the only live translation partner.

It also counts Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns teams in the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, as its partners, as well as chef Nick DiGiovanni, Dubai-based social media personality Narins Beauty and other celebrities.

Camb.ai was also used in the horror film Three, from Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja, making it the world’s first, fully AI-dubbed multilingual feature film.

The company's growing portfolio is driving it to seek more partnerships in local, regional and international markets. Mr Prakash declined to name the organisations they are engaged with for confidentiality reasons. He acknowledged the company is also working with educational institutions.

Camb.ai is also looking into providing its technology to news, which it believes will help boost the dissemination of information without the struggles of the language barrier.

"News is a fundamental area ... and is about bringing facts to the population. If you can do it in a language that everybody understands, it's actually about creating awareness and awakening," Mr Prakash said.

The rise of generative AI has opened up several opportunities to use the technology and companies have been racing to tap into it and apply it in various cases.

The market for live translation and dubbing, however, is niche, especially compared to the most common use cases, including text and images, in which several companies are heavily investing to appeal to a broader audience, consumers in particular.

The global AI translation market is projected to hit $12.36 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 17 per cent, latest data from Verified Market Reports shows.

That presents a significant opportunity for both businesses and providers of the technology, which are expected to grow steadily as AI-backed live translation and dubbing attracts more demand, Mr Prakash said.

"There are some very impactful considerations that organisations should think about ... on one level it has an efficiency implication, like when organisations need content in multiple languages," he said.

"Many companies have adopted [manual] dubbing in the past and it gives them tremendous efficiency, scaleability, speed and realism."

For creators, Camb.ai will be able to help empower them to "take their stories beyond the boundaries that they thought they had set for themselves".

The company currently supports more than 120 languages, including several dialects, and plans to add on to that as it, in parallel, improves its AI models, said Akshat Prakash, co-founder and chief technology officer of Camb.ai.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to specific parts of our technology – how good the core translation is and how natural is the speech is," he said.

Updated: February 09, 2024, 7:34 AM