Speech Graphics chief Gregor Hofer plans rapid growth in avatar technology

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AN Edinburgh based ­company enjoying strong growth by bringing characters in best-selling video games to life is to use its AI technology to target a new generation of users – in the financial and healthcare service industries.

Machine learning firm Speech Graphics is reporting a 33 percent growth in turnover, hitting £800,000 in the last year, while also managing to expand its workforce by a third.

As recruitment continues, it plans to edge closer to the magic million mark with a rapid growth strategy following last year’s successful launch of its latest software platform, first featured in best-selling video games, Gears of War 4 and Call of Duty WWII.

The company – a spin out from Edinburgh University – says it “dominates” the ­global video games market, for lip-sync and facial animation – already working with six out of ten global animation studios, including Microsoft, Warner Bros, and Activision. It now plans to expand operations into financial services and healthcare.

It is developing a ‘cloud communication platform’, designed to integrate a visual conversational AI into mobile, IoT connected devices and web ­applications. It would target the Intelligent Virtual Assistant market by creative individual avatars proven to proide a ­better ‘emotional’ connection.

Businesses would licence the software and brands would imprint their own identity ­before it interacted directly with customers during interactions such as bank balance enquiries or money transfers, to daily conversations between healthcare professionals and patients.

Dr Gregor Hofer, CEO and founder, said: “The market is expected to see a massive ­increase over the next few years, from $750 million to an estimated $12.28 billion by 2024. Our track record in the games sector and our recent transition from a service company to a SaaS business model puts us in a powerful position to be able to grow the company.

“Today the consumer expects round the clock customer service. Intelligent Virtual Assistants may seem like the answer but we also expect service with a smile. A smile you can believe in.

“Unfortunately, avatars often negatively impact customer experience because they lack emotion. It requires expertise in voice networking, visualisation, emotional analytics and speech-technology.”