Companies develop voice-enabled user interface technologies.
3M, through its corporate venture organization, 3M New Ventures, and VocalZoom, a developer of speech enhancement technology that enables voice communication and recognition, announced an equity investment and collaboration that will bring a new class of voice-enabled user interfaces to a broad range of customers. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"While touch capability has become the de facto standard for user interfaces, voice activation is also gaining more and more momentum to enable hands-free operation of state-of-the-art devices," said Yechiel Kurtz, chairman of VocalZoom, in a statement. "VocalZoom's technology will accelerate this trend by enabling the use of voice in even the most demanding environments. 3M's investment and collaboration provides us with new and exciting opportunities, such as integration of our subsystem into 3M's display and touch technology as well as a broad range of additional applications."
"For voice activation to become ubiquitous. it must seamlessly work in any environment regardless of the level of background noise," said Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures, in the statement. "VocalZoom is a critical enabler for a new generation of user interfaces that do not just rely on touch or gestures but also on our voice to input data. The investment in VocalZoom will help us to complement our existing technology in this field, and to collaboratively develop new products for our OEM customers."
Gabriel said that VocalZoom's signal capturing system adds a critical component to 3M's technology portfolio in user interfaces and acoustics to enable novel solutions for those spaces.
"We see a great variety of applications in which people may prefer voice as a means to interact with their personal device environment, including their industrial workplaces, hospitals, or commercial kiosks, and even consumer electronics," Robert Visser, vice president of research and development for 3M's energy and electronics business group, said in the statement.