Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans – 2018 Edition
Science & Technology

Matthew Westaway (26)

Co-founder and chief executive, Voyc.ai

After completing a MSc in Engineering and the Advanced Programme in Design Thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute at the University of Cape Town, Matthew Westaway is geared towards solution finding. In this world of AI and blockchain technology that few understand, it is encouraging to know there are those who have an in-depth knowledge of these systems and are creating solutions that have wide societal reach.

Westaway has been a core driver of many African-first innovations including The Hourglass project and Hello Baby 3D Prints, Africa’s first ultrasound 3D printing service.

Westaway is chief executive of Voyc.ai. Together with Lethabo Motsoaledi, Westaway co-founded M&W Innovation Studio. At M&W, through applying design thinking methodology, they help companies transition towards customer-centricity and thrive in the ever-changing global paradigm. Westaway developed Africa’s first ever multilingual compatible Artificial Intelligence algorithm, which automatically converts speech to text and extracts key topics through a breakthrough natural language processing algorithm.

“When working on our various client projects we would often spend many hours transcribing recorded conversations into text and thereafter synthesising the text to determine themes and insights … This process frustrated us, and we looked at how we could use AI and machine learning to assist us be more productive and mitigate some of the biases … So, we developed voyc.ai (“pronounced voice”) — a SaaS (software as a service) solution to visualise and organise your conversations.”

Voyc.ai is a core analytics tool and is now being used by other design thinkers and teams in corporate innovation and market research departments, as well as professionals such as journalists, lawyers and researchers who need a quick transcription of their conversations and want those conversations to be searchable.

Westaway’s success in creating world-class algorithms has been through stressing the importance of applying the human centric-design methodology to build Artificial Intelligence technology that all people can use, not just experts. His desire is for everyone to have the superhuman power of obtaining insights from reams of unstructured data. — Sifiso Buthelezi

Twitter: @mattwestaway