audEERING the innovation leader in Audio Intelligence technology
Please introduce yourself and your startup audEERING to our readers!
I am Dagmar M. Schuller, CEO/COO and Co-Founder of audEERING, the innovation leader in Audio Intelligence technology. audEERING’s Audio Intelligence technology analyzes audio signals to automatically detect emotions, personal information, environmental sounds, health states and many more aspects to enable emotional artificial intelligence. Our product portfolio comprises software systems such as sensAI Web-API and sensAI device for automatic emotion and speaker state recognition from speech signals and methods for other audio/music analysis based on advanced machine learning, deep learning and transfer learning methods. We own the internationally renowned audio-analysis-toolkit “openSMILE” and released a first-of-its-kind, patent-pending technology VocEmoApI allowing to robustly recognize 50+ emotional states in real-time. audEERING is partner of various governmental funded projects in the area of advanced audio-signal-analysis to enhance health/wellbeing in society. In a recent Gartner, Inc. report audEERING was named “Vendor to Watch” for Artificial Intelligence.
We are based in Gilching near Munich and within a few years we became a world-leading contributor of intelligent audio analysis and speech emotion recognition technology and one of the most relevant providers of next-generation artificial intelligence based on affective computing. We founded the company in late 2012 as a spin-off of the Machine Intelligence and Signal Processing group from Technische Universität München.
Our customers comprise DAX companies in the telecommunications and automotive industry as well as leading market research organizations, national/international media companies and service providers.
How did you get the idea to audEERING?
Well, it was the logical consequence of a decade of thorough research and experience at the Technische Universität München. Prof. Björn Schuller, the head of the Machine Intelligence and Signal Processing Group, was the first to publish scientific work and a demonstrator on detecting emotion from the speech signal as early as 2000, when the overall research field of “Affective Computing” was very young. His work was internationally recognized and he became the leading scientist in this field. In late 2012 Prof. Schuller, three of his PhD students and myself decided to take the research work to the next step of actual product application to enable emotional Artificial Intelligence and develop a broad field of real-life applications for Audio Intelligence – so we founded audEERING.
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
The start as such was not difficult, as the team was already recognized as experts in the field. So after a solid year of product development, we had the first renowned client for its application. Then word of mouth spread and we were able to attract market leading multinationals as well as DAX companies as our clients. We still have no marketing or business development team – our clients come to us because they know that our product is leading in the field.
The main challenge is rather the broad applicability of the technology into many areas. Many people we talk to cannot believe what we can detect from the audio signal in real-time. However, our technology is robust and has been tested from researchers in the field like no other.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience or clients are companies that want to thoroughly enhance their products with emotional Artificial intelligence and Audio Intelligence capabilities. We can enable them to reach a new level. We do not identify what somebody says, but how and can detect features like emotion or health states on human, sometimes even super-human level.
The companies can be in the health sector (e.g. early detection or therapy of cognitive diseases or similar, depression/burnout detection & therapy, improved hearing aids with de-noising or enhancement capabilities, etc.), wellness (e.g. self-monitoring), automotive (e.g. driver state detection, intelligent dialogue systems), telecommunication, call centre optimization, human resources (e.g. interviewing), intelligent chatbots, smart home, music enhancement, Internet of Things, intelligent Wearable & Hearables, and many more.
Also, early detection of defects that can be heard within audio as an industry application (e.g. train tracks, elevator maintenance, etc.) is possible.
What is the USP of your startup?
Our technology is unrivalled, which is also transparent since we frequently publish in the research area. Exemplary, our competitors can detect about 11 emotion classes with audio samples of one minute or longer – in comparison, we detect 50+ emotion classes with our VocEmoApI technology robustly in real-time base only on a very short audio sample (e.g. 2 seconds).
We set the baseline every year for the international ComParE challenge, where more than 60 research labs worldwide participate on the same data. Exemplary, this year our baseline could not be beaten, although baseline means, we did not even put enhanced models and algorithms to it. So our technology is very transparent and proven, which is not the case with most of our competitors.
Also, we have almost two decades experience in the audio intelligence field and usually set the trend, where this field develops. Still we are very close to universities and research labs, so any type of new development and advancement is immediately implemented and tested which gives us another competitive advantage.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
My day as a working mom starts quite early with preparations. Luckily, I can reach the office by bicycle, which I usually do and we start with a morning meeting, discussing current challenges and projects. During the day, I usually have many calls and meetings with different team members, clients and prospects. Together with our CTO, Dr. Florian Eyben, I discuss strategy and moving forward. As we currently are growing heavily, we need to focus and provide strong team leading.
Where do you see yourself and your startup audEERING in five years?
I see ourselves at the size of about 50 – 70 employees with a solid track record of success stories in different industries. A notable one we already had a few weeks ago, when our client GfK, the leader in market research in Germany, won the BVM Innovationspreis 2017 with its product Market Builder Voice, where we provided the decisive emotional intelligence component. I do see this happen in many areas – the clients applying our audEERING technology will add significant value to their products and portfolio to have sincere competitive advantage and innovation capabilities.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1. Don’t just talk about it – do it!
2. Make your product rock and disrupt the market – make a difference!
3. Stay focused!
More information you will find here
Thank you Dagmar M. Schuller, for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.