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Start-Up Using Technology To Analyse Lip Reading Receives $1m In Funding

Belfast-based Liopa, an innovative start-up using lip reading technology, has received €1 million (€808,000) in funding which will enable their product to reach the global market.

Thanks to backing from AI Seed Fund and Co-fund NI, Liopa now has the capability to commercialise its Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) product LipRead on a much greater scale.

Developed following 10 years of research by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University, LipRead uses the camera on a smartphone or tablet to analyse lip movement and decipher words and phrases.

LipRead’s primary function will be improving the accuracy of commonly used voice-driven assistants (such as Siri, Cortana or Alexa) and voice activated applications in noisy environments such as vehicles, offices & factories.

Other potential uses of the multi-lingual lip reading technology include:

  • An aid for the hard of hearing via automated subtitling
  • Word/phrase search in uploaded video
  • Human-robotic interaction; and
  • Preventing authentication fraud (aka Anti-spoofing)

Liopa is led by seasoned entrepreneurs Liam McQuillan and Richard McConnell. Together they have been involved in the creation of several indigenous NI tech start-up companies that have successfully developed software products for the worldwide market and have achieved substantial exit values.

Confirming the latest funding milestone, Liam McQuillan said:

“Voice is forecast to overtake the keyboard and mouse as the primary means of interacting with mobile & computing applications. The big stumbling block however is the accuracy of current voice technologies in real world environments – commands get misinterpreted frequently due to background noise. LipRead will augment current technologies and provide this much needed accuracy, thus ensuring the success of the ‘Voice UI’.”

Hal Wilson of Techstart NI, along with QUBIS who were initial backers, added his support:

“Liopa brings together great technology, a strong team and an exciting market opportunity This latest funding round marks a significant step forward and will support the team’s plans to bring the LipRead technology to market.”

Dr Darryl Stewart and Dr Fabian Campbell-West, world-renowned authorities in Visual Speech Recognition & Computer Vision, are also part of the Liopa team and have spearheaded the research behind LipRead.

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