Investment in voice-controlled human machine interfaces

15th September 2017
Alice Matthews

In just three years from now, we can expect that 30 billion devices will belong to the Internet of Things (IoT). Cars, homes, industrial plants and consumer devices are rapidly becoming connected to the Internet. While today the interaction between humans and machines is mostly done by touch, the next evolutionary step of IoT will lead to the omni-presence of high-performance voice control. Infineon Technologies wants to further develop its capabilities to shape this market segment.

Complementing other partnerships, Infineon has made a minority investment in XMOS Limited, a Bristol based fabless semiconductor company that provides voice processors for IoT devices. Infineon leads the recent $15m series-E funding round.

“Through this investment, Infineon will further explore the high potential of voice control and is well positioned to address future use cases like speaker authentication or contextual awareness,” said Andreas Urschitz, President of the Power Management & Multimarket (PMM) Division at Infineon. The market for consumer devices with voice-controlled human machine interface (HMI) such as digital home assistants is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 46% in the coming years, according to IHS (IHS Markit Digital assistants and AI, May 2017).

“This was the logical next step, as we have identified HMI as a strategic growth area.” Mark Lippett, CEO of XMOS, was quick to point out the synergies. “Infineon and XMOS share an exciting vision of next-gen user experiences, and best in class technology in complimentary areas. Partnerships like ours will be key to the realisation of universally accessible IoT solutions.”

Today, voice controllers, used in voice recognition systems, struggle to differentiate between speech from a person in the room, and a synthesised source such as a radio, TV; they often identify the voice of interest based on the loudest noise. Earlier in 2017 Infineon and XMOS demonstrated an enhanced solution to overcome these issues, using intelligent human-sensing microphones and gesture recognition. The solution featured a combination of Infineon’s radar and silicon microphone sensors to detect the position and the distance of the speaker from the microphones, with XMOS far field voice processing technology used to capture speech.

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