£2m raised for diversification
Smiles all round as lip-sync firm targets customer service sector
Read my lips: Gregor Hofer and Michael Berger
The team behind Lara Croft’s smile in the newly launched bestselling Shadow of the Tomb Raider video game are turning their technology sights on the customer service sector following a significant funding boost.
Speech Graphics, an Edinburgh and California based technology business, has received a £2 million investment from Archangels, Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank to pursue its plans.
The company is targeting the customer service sector’s intelligent virtual assistant market from its base in the San Francisco Bay area of California.
The IVA market is expected to grow from $750m (£538m) to nearly $12.3bn (£8.8bn) by 2024. Speech Graphics technology introduces an emotional connection currently lacking in existing artificial intelligence (AI) platforms used in customer service.
It plans to use the proceeds of the funding to build a software platform around its core technology which will allow the development community to create emotionally responsive avatars which can engage in real-time conversations with customers.
Speech Graphics is well known in the entertainment industry as a provider of facial animation and lip sync technology based purely on audio input and currently works with global brands including Warner Brothers, Microsoft, Def Jam, Sony and Activision.
The company was part of the technology stack for the new Lara Craft Tomb Raider Game for Square Enix which has quickly become a best-selling game since its launch a few weeks ago.
Dr Gregor Hofer, co-founder and CEO of Speech Graphics said: “This is an exciting time for Speech Graphics as we realise our strategic vision of expanding into the US, taking our revolutionary technology into the customer service realm with the funding from Archangels, Par Equity and SIB.
“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.”
Fellow founder and CTO Michael Berger said: “Speech is not just about lip sync, it’s also about energy and emotion in the voice that need to come across perfectly in the face. We were proud to add the Lara Croft Tomb Raider game to our distinguished track record in the entertainment sector, which demands the highest quality output.
“That proven tech now allows us to bring the same emotional connection to customer service applications where it is sorely needed.”