“Alexa”…. We’re sure she has a lot to answer for in the minds of parents everywhere, but Amazon’s virtual assistant AI is a very real example of the proliferation of speech recognition technologies in our daily lives. More and more of us are living with smart assistants and in smart homes.
The TV may be on, children are shouting and we are trying to gain control of a ‘smart’ device using our voice, so we need a speech recognition system that works effectively in the presence of background noise.
In a world where we Zoom or use Google Hangouts and our Airpods in a café to have a video call, we want to hear the conversation without interference from ambient chatter.
And in all of these experiences, our expectations are that lip movements remain synchronised with what is being heard, voices sound natural and there is almost no delay to a two-way dialogue.
This is a seriously hard problem to tackle, but AudioTelligence’s technology impressively isolates speech from a noisy background.
When we got to experience a real-life demonstration, our team were visibly excited and it is fair to say that this response is universally shared by those who get to experience a technology demonstration.
A common challenge that we face in the Deep Tech pod is that we come across inspiring entrepreneurs who have developed a fantastic, novel technology, however the route to market, the end applications or the voice of the customer, is not deeply understood. We’re not always seeing evidence of customers clamouring for a new technology and have to ask ourselves if the technology we are considering for investment is still looking for a problem to solve.
Fortunately, within the AudioTelligence founding team, there is a unique combination of academia, deep technical expertise, commercial and scale-up experience.
Whilst the possibilities feel endless, the team are working with a small set of exciting customers whilst continuing to develop the product and grow the team. The long-term vision of the company is to use their solution to go beyond improving human-machine, or machine-machine interaction, and to augment individual hearing and the often unpleasant experience of using hearing-aids.
We are delighted to have the opportunity to lead the £6.5m Series A investment into AudioTelligence, a spin-out from Cambridge-based CEDAR Audio Ltd, alongside a group of existing investors that we respect; Cambridge Innovation Capital, Cambridge Enterprise and CEDAR Audio. Good luck to Ken, Dave, Sue and the team in what we’re sure is going to be an exciting 2020.