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In the course of unfolding criminal incidents, terrorist attack and other homeland security events, one of the primary factors disrupting communications between the various first response forces is none other than background noises. Whether the vocal data is relayed between two people or whether it is designed to activate digital systems, the higher and clear the sound that is being relayed, the better the performance human systems and elements can achieve.

Development of unique optoelectronic microphone is at the foundation of the technological effort to screen background sound and improve audio quality. This technology enables enhancing the speaker’s voice using two sensors: a standard acoustic microphone and an optic sensor capable of deciphering the user’s voice while screening background noises.

Established in 2009, Israeli startup company VocalZoom has developed the unique laser-based technology called SEEON – Speech Enhancement Electro Optical Microphone, thanks to which a unique optoelectronic microphone is able to substantially enhance a speaker’s voice over any background noise. The technology creates a “virtual cube” in space, sensing sound from only within the cube. This enables highly significant speech enhancement and precise speaker isolation, which are the key elements missing today to enable mass-usage of voice-driven applications for devices such as radios and smartphones. This was recently patented in the US.

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VocalZoom’s innovation has caught Motorola’s attention. The latter recently announced that its investment arm Motorola Solutions Venture Capital has invested in the Israeli startup company, dubbed ’a leading developer of sensors for speech enhancement’. Other VocalZoom investors in this series of funding include existing investors 3M and OurCrowd, as well as new investor FueTrek (Japan). The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Motorola usually invests in the framework of cash-for-shares swap deals.

Hearing cone
VocalZoom’s innovation is applicable to both military and civil uses. Pic: courtesy of VocalZoom.

Motorola Solutions Sr. Investment Manger Ami Isakov told i-HLS that prior to the investment, Motorola looked into this technology and the potential to integrate it into its own systems. “We are currently in the process of evaluating the technology. We believe VocalZoom’s highly accurate sensor will enable us to greatly enhance the company’s value and underscore the distinction of our out solutions, some of which have been developed in Israel.”

“SEEON has the potential to be the difference of whether a firefighter or a police officer can communicate at a dangerous incident or a fire scene,” said Paul Steinberg, chief technology officer at Motorola Solutions. This can be the difference between life and death for them or the people they are protecting, or the difference between whether a criminal is apprehended or escapes.”