Like what, being a student and watching a Marvel movie instead of revising is not necessarily a waste of time. It could be the start of a great adventurevery real and which takes, years later, at CES Las Vegas. In 2015, William Simonin and Vincent Leroy, both on the benches of an engineering school specializing in IT expertise but also in a master’s degree in commerce in London, had something of a revelation. Tony Stark, movie hero Iron Man, uses an artificial intelligence named Jarvis. A technology that can control everything by voice: the lights, the shutters of his house… “We found it very cool and we looked on the Internet to find a similar solution, says William Simonin. We realized that it did not exist. Too bad, because it could really be useful. So we said, “We’re going to do it.” »
The beginning of a new world for the two students who, seven years later and still in their thirties, are developing and marketing their innovation. Their artificial intelligence-based voice recognition technology is on familiar ground at CES Las Vegas. This is their fifth participation, this time with version 5 of their VDK Silbo.
The voice, interface of the future
This innovation is software, a kind of toolbox that allows any company to easily integrate a voice interface. In a robot, a microwave, a coffee maker, a VR headset… “We have always been convinced that the human-voice machine interface would be the most intuitive and the most logical for a human being. But in 2015, we were at the very beginning of Siri. It was very early for this technology. »
Now, their company, Vivoka, whose head office and research and development department are based in Metz, employs nearly forty people throughout the world. “When we created the company, we hadn’t yet left our studies,” recalls William Simonin. We were a little lucky because it was the right time. As we began to talk about voice assistants, to work on these subjects, two years later, Google announced Google Home, telling everyone that the interface of the future would be the voice. We were quite pioneers and we surfed this wave. It was the start of everything. Since there was nothing like Jarvis, we decided to create our own smart home solution. She quickly got her avatar, a little raccoon named Zac.
A first success which “accelerated at the time of the Covid because we had a lot of orders from various and varied companies: robotics, logistics… But they were more interested in our technology than in the finished product. Above all, they needed to introduce voice recognition into their equipment, systems and solutions. But it wasn’t so easy due to the almost unlimited amount of project specifics, different budgets, soundscapes, technical environments according to customers, explains William Simonin. Our strategy was not scalable at all at that time. As there were too many requests and we couldn’t meet them, we said to ourselves that if we really wanted voice recognition to revolutionize human-machine interfaces, it had to be accessible by everyone. world. Thus was born the idea of the VDK.
Operation without Internet
In addition to being accessible and simple according to Vivoka, this voice technology has the advantage of operating in 42 languages. And it is “on board”, “off line”, underlines William Simonin. Clearly, the voice assistant does not need the Internet to work. Your voice-recognized coffee maker, even in the middle of the desert, will work. “This is a very big advantage for industrial systems, one of the sine qua non conditions because we hear more and more about the issues of data protection and confidentiality”, underlines the young entrepreneur.
A considerable plus in this market, which is now worth 12 billion dollars according to Vivoka, while “three quarters of voice recognition players are positioned on Cloud technologies”. Internet independence that can make the difference. “We are among the pioneers in this field,” says William Simonin. There are very few companies that come with so many languages on this offline technology. And there are very few companies that have started doing this research. So we have a head start. » An advance which opened the door to the Metz company « the doors of large groups in the industrial field, mainly companies working in logistics ». And many other fields of activity are interested. “We made a big announcement with the world leader in robotics for education called Miko. A small robot that will carry hundreds of educational games for children. A product that will also be demonstrated at CES in Las Vegas.
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With their voice recognition kit, they are stronger than Iron Man
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