Speech Graphics Raises $7 Million Funding Round

Speech Graphics Raises $7 Million Funding Round

Speech Graphics, the Edinburgh-headquartered technology company, has raised $7 million in a new round of funding to further build its audio-driven facial animation technology.

Sands Capital led the round, which will be used to increase headcount – currently standing at 50 – build new partnerships, and expand available products and services to address a range of enterprise needs, from sales to service, across retail, healthcare, banking, and travel – alongside the company’s work in the global games market.

Lip Synch AI

Speech Graphics’ technology has 20 years of research in linguistics, biomechanics, psychology, machine learning, and computer graphics behind it. The company’s platform enables animated characters in games and other applications to lip-synch in real-time when speaking – without requiring the characters to be laboriously animated – and providing a superior outcome.

Speech Graphic’s technology interprets the emotional nuances in voice performances to drive a detailed model of the muscle systems involved in speech. This provides a superior level of consistency and animation, with far fewer resources.

Building Rapport

Alongside its extensive work in videogames, Speech Graphics has new responded to increased demand for realistic ‘virtual assistants’ that can offer a consistent, human-like experience, creating Rapport a new corporate-facing brand, which also positions the company within the rapidly evolving concept of the ‘metaverse’.

Rapport enables businesses to create personal interactions with digital avatars online, in game engines, or within apps. The platform provides access to Speech Graphics’ real-time avatar technology, along with low-latency streaming, real-time animation in the browser with no plugin required. The emotional Artificial Intelligence (AI) interprets the user’s voice and responds accordingly, all of which is integrated with a highly scalable backend plugin infrastructure that connects a growing range of third-party technologies, including conversational AI, speech recognition, and speech synthesis.

This enables users to integrate a talking avatar into any website using just a few lines of JavaScript. Developers can access AI, text-to-speech, and automatic speech recognition for specific markets or audiences. And they can scale the tech to support millions of users using proprietary browser rendering technology and a flexible backend system. Developers can also animate an infinite amount of different avatars, from photoreal humans to stylised characters and anthropomorphic animals.

Michael Graninger, partner at Sands Capital, said:

Sands Capital invested in Rapport because we believe that, with its revolutionary approach to AI, facial animation and deeply collaborative experiences, Rapport is poised to grow its presence using its Speech Graphics engine. We’ve been closely following Speech Graphics and have no doubt that the team has the technical acumen, depth of experience and charisma to drive the expansion of Rapport to incredible success.

Future Expansion

Speech Graphics raised its first round of funding of $3 million in 2018. The latest round of funding will enable the company to expend by up to 20.

Game industry revenues became the main revenue stream for Speech Graphics. The company then started generating interest outside of games, for metaverse and website applications.

Gregor Hofar, the co-founder and CEO of Speech Graphics told VentureBeat:

You need a character, an animation system, a rendering system, and a connection to something like a chatbot. You could also connect to something like a voice-over-internet-protocol system. There is a lot of technology stack that needs to build out to actually have a successful application.

With Rapport, we are solving a lot of problems. A lot of companies come to us about the metaverse to ask how they represent themselves in the metaverse? How do they represent their brands? A digital character has a very clear way of doing that.

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