NEW YORK — June 30, 2021 — Hour One, an end-to-end video creation platform powered by AI and photoreal presenters, announced today that Berlitz, the world’s premier provider of language and culture training, is using Hour One to augment its instructor-led services and grow its digitally-based language training programs.
For 143 years Berlitz has been providing industry leading language instruction, with a fundamental belief that you can’t learn a language without human instruction. But to make that instructor time more valuable, it had to create highly engaging asynchronous experiences that simulated a live lesson. The challenge was doing that in a way that was authentic to their brand and upheld their values of face-to-face, instructor-led learning, while maintaining strict adherence to the Berlitz Method, a language learning methodology that has consistently delivered high quality outcomes to learners since the company was founded in 1878.
“Berlitz has built our methodology and brand on delivering the best outcomes for students serious about fluency, which requires a very human centric experience,” said Curt Uehlein, Berlitz’s CEO. “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.”
In its search for a technology partner, Berlitz chose Hour One, based on its ability to recreate the in-person instructor experience as closely as possible. Hour One produces highly-realistic photoreal characters, with natural facial expressions and gestures, and perfectly synced speech – something that Berlitz believes is critical for language acquisition.
Berlitz initially created courses using real instructors filmed in a studio, but the time and cost prohibited it from being a viable long-term solution, especially with the need to create thousands of videos across a range of languages, while maintaining the same look and feel across videos.
Already, Hour One’s automated AI process has driven massive scalability and productivity benefits for Berlitz. Instead of course content being created in a studio with a camera, talent and crew each time, it is now generated using AI, enabling video creation in an infinitely scalable, consistent and cost-effective way. The need to reshoot video content for corrections is also eliminated, enabling a significantly smoother corrections process.
“Hour One provided the best of both worlds, allowing us to give students digital course options but without sacrificing the in-person experience we are known for,” said Steve Rae, Berlitz’s Global SVP of Customer Experience. “Hour One has figured out how to humanize the human-to-machine interface that is typically very static, at a scale and affordability that just couldn’t be done before.”
“It’s not often that you hear about a major institution embracing technology in such a core and strategic way,” said Oren Aharon, CEO, Hour One. “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. It has been amazing to work with Berlitz, an established leader in the education space, and to help fulfill our vision of access to instructor-led education for everyone.”
Recognized as the world’s premier provider of language and culture training, Berlitz helps millions of people harness the power of understanding to progress further. With face-to-face, online and blended options, Berlitz offers immersive language and culture programs for adults, kids, and teens, as well as customizable solutions for businesses and government. Berlitz has more than 450 locations in over 70 countries.
About Hour One
Hour One is an end-to-end video creation platform, enabling next-level AI automation to scale human-led, personalized communications. Powered by life-like, programmable characters, Hour One brings studio-grade video to all businesses. We use advanced neural networks, machine learning and audio-visual pipelines to create characters that look and sound like real people. This way, a single character can deliver thousands of text lines, in multiple languages, to a video stream which people can interact with. We use a vast cloud infrastructure to maintain those characters, and to generate and edit thousands of videos for businesses across e-learning, e-commerce, digital health, and more. Behind each AI character is a real human being. Through contractual arrangements, we have permission to use their likeness in predefined commercial use cases, for which they earn a fee. We clearly label all commercial content as computer-generated, to respect the user’s right to know.