Membership will help maximise skills and identify new ideas, products and insights  

Belfast based Artificial Intelligence startup Liopa is delighted to announce it has become a member of Northern Ireland’s Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC). CHIC seeks to develop companies operating in Northern Ireland through targeted research and development. 

CHIC is funded though Invest NI’s Competence Centre Programme and aims to transform healthcare through business research. The £8m centre, based at Ulster University, has a membership of over 30 companies from across the healthcare and technology sectors. It has delivered over 30 research projects with industry collaborators, driving innovation and product developments. This, in turn, has lead to better health outcomes and economic return to Northern Ireland. 

On welcoming Liopa as CHIC member Centre Director David Branagh commented “It is great to see Liopa become a member of the Connected Health Innovation Centre as part of the growing life and health sciences industry in Northern Ireland. Liopa has a highly innovative and revolutionary technology which has the potential to deliver real impact into people’s lives. We look forward to working with Liopa as their Visual Speech Recognition technology develops.” 

Professor Jim McLaughlin, is one of two principal investigators in CHIC. He said, “The research which originates from CHIC and the products which member companies, such as Liopa, bring to market are revolutionising the healthcare. CHIC provides a vehicle for health service and end user engagement, helping along an often-complex path to adoption and impact. We’re delighted Liopa is joining us in leading the way in transformational research for Connected Health.” 

“We’re excited about joining CHIC” said Liam McQuillan, Co founder and CEO Liopa. “Being a member will help us to go to market at greater pace and scale. And we’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most innovate NI companies in the connected health arena.”  

LIOPA secures Innovate UK Funding, along with partners Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Queen’s University Belfast. They will deploy a communications aid for tracheostomy patients, aimed at improving patient engagement and autonomy.

Liopa, a spin out of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has announced that it is to deliver a prototype patient/carer communications aid. Tracheostomy patients will use it in critical care environments.

Working along with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Queen’s University Belfast, Liopa will develop SRAVI (Speech Recognition App for the Voice Impaired). Compared to the limited alternatives available, SRAVI will provide an easy-to-use, accurate and cost effective method for communication between these patients, their family members and healthcare staff. SRAVI will integrate with LipRead, Liopa’s artificial intelligence engine for Visual Speech Recognition.

The initial project will focus on a select group of tracheostomy patients (approximately 10,000 tracheostomies are performed annually in the UK). They will struggle to vocalise but be able to move their lips normally. Whilst the initial prototype will support a limited vocabulary in English, the application can be further developed to support larger vocabularies across multiple languages.

Clinical Professor Danny McAuley at QUB’s Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine and Consultant at the Belfast Trust commented, “The inability to communicate during an ICU stay is a major source of morbidity for patients, family and staff. A patient’s non-verbal attempts to communicate are often difficult to understand. This can be frustrating for patients and carers. This novel approach may allow better communication between the patient, staff and family from an early stage.”

“This is an innovative application of our proven AI-based Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) system LipRead. LipRead analyses and translates lip movements into recognisable words. The technology allows the translation of lip movement to text using a mobile app on a mobile device. It requires very little training and is inexpensive,” said Liam McQuillan, Co-founder and CEO, Liopa. He continued, “SRAVI can be deployed on commodity smartphones and tablets, that can be used by multiple patients.  Alternative technologies, such as ‘eye-gaze’ systems, require bespoke hardware and are generally much more expensive.”

Shondipon Laha is a Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthesia at Lancashire Teaching Hospital. He explained further, “This project will address a government priority to implement new digital solutions in the NHS. SRAVI will deliver improved patient-carer communications for patients with tracheostomies. It therefore reduces rehabilitation times in expensive ICU settings.”

The project will run for 9 months. It will include an evaluation phase, carried out in hospital critical care environments in Lancashire and Belfast. It has been funded by UK Research and Innovation. This new organisation brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. It creates the best environment for research and innovation to flourish, to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Find out more about what lipreading is from this short video….



Belfast AI Startup Liopa Raises Seed funding on the Syndicate Room crowdfunding platform

A spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast and the Centre for Secure IT, Liopa is developing lipreading technology to enable visual speech recognition. 

AI-based technology startup Liopa has completed a very successful fund-raising campaign on the SyndicateRoom crowdfunding website. The company raised 2.5 times the target amount in a 4 week period. It received strong backing from a number of angel investors and the Fund Twenty8 EIS fund. 

Founded in 2015, Liopa is commercialising over 10 years of research in the field of Speech and Image processing. The company’s technology can determine speech by analysing the movement of a user’s lips as they speak into a camera. In addition, the technology can be used to prevent “spoofing” and security issues in facial recognition systems. 

Liopa’s primary focus is improving the accuracy of voice driven applications which have risen in popularity. Virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have brought voice interaction into the mainstream. And now corporations such as Google and Sonos are following their lead. These voice driven systems, however, rely on audio speech recognition (ASR) to determine speech. This means their accuracy deteriorates with the increase of real-world audio noise – for example, in a busy restaurant or outside on a windy day. 

Liopa’s visual speech recognition technology, LipRead, is designed to decipher speech from lip movements. It is therefore agnostic to audio noise. Liopa hopes to augment existing voice driven systems in real-world environments, improving accuracy when background noise is present. The company calls this usage of LipRead “ASR-Assist”. 

Speaking about the funding round, Liopa’s CEO Liam McQuillan said: “This investment will allow us to grow our engineering capability and AI talent.” He continued, “We’ll be able to accelerate the exciting developments we have planned in our roadmap, and protect our valuable IP.”

SyndicateRoom’s co-founder, Tom Britton commented, “It’s no wonder the technology being developed by Liopa is so incredible. The team behind it have spent a combined 50+ man years researching or developing the technology. Their backgrounds range from Senior Academics to C- suite Commercial ranging from startups to the likes of Intel. The applications for their platform are wide ranging, everything from helping law enforcement decipher what’s been said on CCTV footage to giving those who have lost their ability to vocalise a new way to easily communicate. We’re delighted to play a role in such an innovative technology that is applying machine learning and AI for an ultimate good.” 

Launched in September 2013, SyndicateRoom is an online investment platform. It has helped 170+ early-stage UK businesses secure more than £215 million in funding through its investor-led equity crowdfunding model.  

Watch the Liopa company overview video …..




Visual Speech Recognition - Read My Lips photo

Liopa commences trials of AI-based LipSecure with established User Authentication and Identity Verification providers to provide enhanced anti-spoofing capabilities.

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EU ERDF

Liopa has received an Invest NI Grant for Research and Development, targeted towards a project to develop LipRead, a Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) product.

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News Story Image

Belfast firm is building lip-reading tools to improve speech-controlled systems.
Neil Briscoe, renowned Motoring journalist, pens excellent article on Liopa’s LipREAD in an in-vehicle environment. Read in full here.

 

Investment

Liopa recently completed a ‘pre-seed’ funding round designed to take the company through development of technology demonstrator and early market proving.

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Liopa was today named the best new start and best early stage companies respectively at the regional final of the 2016 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.

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