Startup Spotlight: Squigl Uses ML to Transform Speech and Text to Powerful Animations

Date Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A picture, it’s said, is worth a thousand words. The present-day popularity of movies at the expense of print seems to bear that out, and people increasingly turn to video for training, education, and entertainment rather than to written classes, instruction books, or novels. With that in mind, Ahmad Roowala and his team at Squigl considered how useful it would be if they could make it easier to turn words into pictures, transforming dull, inaccessible content into engaging and effective animation.

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What if you didn’t have to start from scratch to design and build a video or animated presentation? Instead, maybe you could simply reuse your existing materials. Let’s say you didn’t need to hire a video production company or a graphic artist to create your production. How about not having to spend time meeting, analyzing, explaining, revising, and editing? Doesn’t that sound good?

It does sound good. It sounded so good to the Squigl crew that they decided to create an AI-driven platform to deliver just such a pain-free content creation and transformation toolset. The result is a self-service production environment that uses the latest advances in machine learning technologies. It does all the complicated, time-consuming work needed to transform a variety of existing materials quickly and easily into new, concise, highly engaging content. Content that more effectively captures attention and communicates your important messaging.

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The process is simple. Assemble your source material—it can be spoken or written. Include a commentary if you want or choose a spoken voice and leave it to the service to produce one. Then sit back and let Squigl do its work. Five minutes or so later, you’ll have the results. You may decide to make some further tweaks and changes, and you can add logos and splash screens, change colors, swap images or soundtracks. You can indulge your inner Ceil B. De Mille as much as you want until you’re ready to share your video—on your site, through Teams, or via a learning management system—or you can download the file in a variety of formats including closed captioned.

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Roowala notes that people typically retain some 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read, but up to 80 percent of what they see. And he offers a practical example of the ROI provided by Squigl as it helps you move your content toward that highly desirable 80 percent mark. His service dramatically boosted the effectiveness of a dry, uninviting 67-page staff safety training manual at a Fortune 500 company: “Those 67 pages were tough to read, and people who actually read them weren’t retaining the information. We transformed that document into an 8-minute video that substantially improved training pass rates while saving huge numbers of staff hours,” says Roowala.

Building a platform like Squigl is a lot of work, demanding state of the art contributions at all levels. No wonder it’s been some four years in development; Roowala needed not only a smart solution, but a global one that takes into account linguistic and cultural nuances. And he knew customers would need a highly secure environment for their proprietary and potentially sensitive information. His advice to startups engaging in similarly ambitious enterprises? “Be honest with yourself about where you are in the process and what you can achieve. And remember you can build the best product out there, but you also need to build awareness; development and marketing need to be done in parallel.”

It’s a great message. We bet he has a pretty good video for it, too.

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