Israeli startup develops noise-resistant voice control for cars

Israeli startup develops noise-resistant voice control for cars
Business news |
In automotive environments, voice-based control still has a problem after so many years: The noise in the car disturbs the intelligibility of spoken commands. Israel-based Startup Hi Auto wants to change that. With its approach of speaker separation and voice enhancement, the company now has collected $4.5 million in its seed capital round.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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Speech recognition platforms today suffer from poor recognition rates in a noisy environment such as kids in the back seat of cars, ambulance passing by, or heavy rain.  Hi Auto’s audio-visual approach, which combines a microphone and a camera that tracks the speaker’s lips, will eliminate all noise and will make speech recognition in cars work reliably under any noise condition.  

Currently, Hi Auto is focusing on the automotive sector. However, the novel solution can be applied in a broad range of use cases in various fields where there is a need for speech recognition and clear conversations, including automotive, contact centers, video conferences and robots serving customers in the hospitality industry. 

Tel Aviv based Hi Auto was founded in February 2019 by CEO Roy Baharav, CTO Eyal Shapira and Zohar Zisapel, who serves as acting chairman and an investor in the company.  Like many Israeli high-tech founders, Baharav served in the past in senior positions in an elite intelligence unit in the IDF, including commander of a department of 40 engineers and technical experts. 

Eyal Shapira also commanded a department of some 40 engineers and professionals in an elite IDF technology unit where he served. After his military service, Shapira established and managed startup companies and served as a consultant to companies such as Intel and Broadcom. Zohar Zisapel, a prominent investor in the automotive sector, is one of Israel’s best-known hi-tech entrepreneurs and managers. Zisapel has helped establish and is the chairman of some of Israel’s most successful automotive startups, including Hailo, Argus and Innoviz.

“When devices operate in multiple speaker and noisy environments such as cars, their recognition reliability goes down dramatically. Our audio-visual approach is able to focus on the driver and remove all noises as if the speaker was talking from a recording room”, says CEO Roy Baharav.

The seed capital round was led by Israeli car importer Delek Motors and Hi Auto’s active chairman Zohar Zisapel. Other investors were Allied Holdings, Singapore based Goldbell Group, and Plug & Play, which works with automotive corporate partners to introduce innovation.

Hi Auto will demonstrate at CES 2020 (January 7-10, Las Vegas) a prototype of the company’s commercial solution for driver speech recognition. Hi Auto claims that this world’s first such solution separates the driver’s voice and blocks out all other passenger voices and noises inside and outside the vehicle. The system is based on a deep learning software program that is installed on a device and eliminates noise which cannot be achieved with the sole use of audio techniques. According to Hi Auto, the company has already established contacts with automotive players to examine its technology soon.

More information: https://www.hi.auto/

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