StatMuse, the sports statistics database that can be queried using natural language inquiries, just announced that it's become the second startup accepted into the NFL Players Association's accelerator.
As a refresher the accelerator, called The One Team Collective, was built to help smaller startups get access to player licensing rights in return for equity.
We first wrote about Statmuse when it was accepted into Disney's accelerator in 2015, then again when it raised a $10M Series A early last year. Back then the startup was pretty focused on providing users with helpful graphs and charts that could be pulled up by typing in a question like "most points scored by an NFL team this year". But soon after raising their Series A, the startup decided to shift its focus to voice apps.
So today Statmuse is launching its own iOS App with an Alexa app coming soon, where you can access its database and ask questions with your voice - and have them answered by your favorite NFL player.
Here's how it works. The company did recording sessions with dozens of NFL players and legends - ranging from Payton Manning to Jerry Rice. These players spent about 90 minutes recording a range of phrases, which StatMuse then strings into complete sentences on the fly when generating a response. The startup also has players record different verb combinations and styles of the same word, so the algorithm sound more realistic by saying the same thing in a few different ways.
Right now there are 7 players launching, and the startup hopes to add about one a week going forward. This means that players won't answer every question - they'll only respond to ones about them or their team. For general sports inquiries StatMuse enlisted Scott Van Pelt of ESPN, who spend nearly 10 hours recording a much broader catalogue of phrases and player names from the sports world, meaning his voice can respond to basically any question that StatMuse's database can handle.
The technology isn't perfect - some of the pauses between words are a bit awkward - making it clear that some phrases is being stitched together on the fly. But this is the exception, and on the whole most responses sound pretty good. Sure, GPS services like Waze have already added voice recordings of celebrities, but its a different experience hearing them respond to a question that you ask with your voice.
The app is totally free to use, but going forward StatMuse sees a trend towards small dollar consumer subscriptions - meaning they may charge a dollar or two a month to talk to your favorite player.
You can check out StatMuse in the iOS App Store now, and on Alexa devices in the next few days.