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Speech Graphics enters new markets

Lip sync firm lets avatars provide service with a smile

Michael Berger and Gregor Hofer: providing virtual assistants with emotion

A Scottish software firm is using its lip sync technology to give virtual customer service avatars more emotion.

Speech Graphics, which has created a niche in video war games, says advances in artificial intelligence mean it can provide computer generated assistants with a ‘smile you can believe in’.

The Edinburgh-based company is expanding into the financial services and healthcare markets where it says the current avatars lack “emotional connection.”

The company dominates the global video-games market for lip-sync and facial animation and is working with six out of ten global animation studios, including Microsoft, Warner Bros, and Activision.

Its software has featured in best-selling video games, Gears of War 4 and Call of Duty WWII.

It is diversifying on the back a 33% growth in turnover to £800,000 and has increased its workforce by almost a third.  

Speech Graphics avatarsDr Gregor Hofer,  CEO and founder, said: “The Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) market is expected to see a massive increase over the next few years, from $750 million to an estimated $12.28 billion by 2024.

“Our track record in the games sector and our recent transition from a service company to a SaaS business model puts us in a powerful position to be able to grow the company.

“Today the consumer expects round the clock customer service.  Intelligent Virtual Assistants may seem like the answer but we also expect service with a smile.  A smile you can believe in.

“Unfortunately avatars often negatively impact customer experience because they lack emotion. 

“Achieving real-time delivery of conversational AI is hard, especially when combined with high-fidelity animation. It requires expertise in voice networking, visualisation, emotional analytics and speech-technology.”

Speech Graphics was founded by Mr Hofer and Michael Berger out of the University of Edinburgh’s Ph.D. program in speech technology.

Its cutting edge software will allow every AI and every person to have their own avatar, leading to ubiquitous avatar communication and giving a new, more emotional and engaging, voice to the face of customer service.

The Speech Graphics software as a service (SaaS) platform will make it straightforward for developers to implement engaging conversational AI solutions across a wide spectrum of vertical markets.

By allowing businesses to licence this software, brands will imprint their own identity upon an emotionally aware, virtual assistant that will have the ability to interact directly with customers during self-service interactions from bank balance enquiries or money transfers, to daily conversations between healthcare professionals and patients. 

This new technology would allow for a deeper, more personal engagement with customers and patients alike, as well as improving the overall social experience involved.

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