Startup Yobe secures $1.8M seed funding to bring voice recognition to noisy environments

Startup Yobe secures $1.8M seed funding to bring voice recognition to noisy environments

Voice technology startup Yobe has secured $1.8 million in seed funding from Clique Capital Partners to accelerate the commercialization of its artificial intelligence-powered voice biometrics ahead of a planned launch this summer.

Yobe applies AI to the identify, track, isolate, and separate certain voices from others in noisy environments, which the company says in the announcement enables device manufacturers to build far-field speech and speaker recognition, speech analytics, chatbots, conversational interactions and other voice-related services into products. The Boston-based company previously received $990,000 in angel funding and a National Science Foundation SBIR grant in 2016 to fund research into the “cocktail party problem.”

“It’s become clear that voice is the future interface across a wide range of industries, technologies and applications,” said James Kenefick, General Partner at Clique Capital Partners. “We selected Yobe as one of our first investments because we believe that it will serve as the core underlying technology for the applications and hardware that shape the future, from smart homes and cars to security and surveillance.”

Clique Capital Partners invests in early stage AI, voice, and IoT related technologies.

Yobe’s technology can separate and enhance voices in the far field in the presence of near field noise, and improves the signal to noise ratio enough to work on voices as low as a whisper, the company says. It can track multiple users simultaneously, be embedded on low-power devices including smartphones for on-device processing, and it decreases packet size by 30 to 50 percent, even while improving sound quality, according to the announcement.

“This round of funding is coming at a pivotal time in the evolution of voice and speech technologies. The timing for us to come to market could not be better, as our technology is positioned to be transformative for voice interface platforms that need security and accuracy to operate in the real world” said Yobe Co-founder, President and CEO Ken Sutton. “We’ve solved one of the most persistent problems in signal processing and were an obvious fit for an investor in innovative voice technologies like Clique.”

“Through persistent research and development, we believe we’ve arrived at a point where what was once a science fiction technology is now a practical reality,” said Yobe Co-founder and Chief Scientist Dr. S Hamid Nawab. “The ability to consistently and reliably separate important signals from noise is not just a groundbreaking development in and of itself, but will lead to the creation of voice user interfaces that power the technology of the future.”

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