The startup of the day: Voxygen develops voices capable of reading any text
The startup counts SNCF, Yellow Pages and Orange among its clients.
Frenchweb invites you today to discover Voxygen, a French startup based in Pleumeur-Bodou, in Brittany, which competes in the very closed sector of text-to-speech editors and already well known for its expressive voices. She develops voices capable of reading any text aloud.
More details with Thierry Moudenc, president of Voxygen.
FW: How did you get the idea for your company?
Thierry Moudenc : Voxygen is the result of a spin-off from members of the historic Orange Labs team in speech synthesis. These members now form the management team of Voxygen. At Orange Labs, the issue was technological excellence, with significant resources to work. This has enabled us to develop a recognized “best-in-class” technology, very breakthrough, capable of reproducing a voice carrying a real personality and capable of expressing itself in different ways, depending on the situation.
The unique know-how acquired in the implementation in the large voice services of Orange for more than ten years has led us to wish to promote the technology in sectors other than the only areas of service of Orange.
FW: What need are you responding to?
Text-to-speech technology can be used in many industries. Voxygen’s voices are just as capable of playing or making people laugh as they are of restoring purely technical information or of accompanying, reassuring. They apply to different areas, for needs as specific as they are varied: for telecoms services, in terminals (mobiles, tablets, tvbox, etc.), for education, for training, in video games, health , the media, for accessibility purposes, in public places …
Customers who already trust us (EDF, Météo France, RATP, SNCF, Pages Jaunes, etc.) have expressed a need that only Voxygen has been able to meet: the creation of voices, bearers of a personality, suitable for a particular use , with full control.
FW: Very simply, how do you make money?
By selling software licenses and specialized services. All products include:
- A catalog of more than 60 expressive and versatile voices, from institutional to “fun”
- The synthesis engine in server, in cloud, or on-board for real-time vocalization
- A virtual recording studio, web interface for creating messages, available 24/7, which allows you to create tailor-made audio messages, with a great capacity for control and editing, including intonation. And immediately deploy the messages in target products or services.
- The “Webreader” which allows you to browse your site by reading, with a Play button
- SDKs for developers: Windows (SAPI), Linux, Android and IOS
- and the BestOfVox range of mobile applications on GooglePlay (and soon on the AppStore)
FW: Who are your competitors?
Voxygen’s competitors are mainly Nuance (American), Acapela (Belgian), and Ivona (Polish) on so-called standard voices. On the rather playful voices, said to be colorful, Voxygen today has no direct competitor.
FW: What or which companies are you being compared to in error?
Has voice recognition. Text to speech speaks, speech recognition listens. Synthesis is to the screen what recognition is to the keyboard. Yet confusion is not uncommon.
FW: What was one of the first issues in your development, and how did you deal with it?
Since the birth of Voxygen we have known a very strong demand for tailor-made solutions. Our first challenge was to manage our growth in terms of staff in order to meet this demand.
The second challenge was, at the same time, to define and “package” a catalog of products and priced services. The difficulty was all the greater since our past as a team at the Orange R&D center had never directed us towards a formal definition of our offer.
FW: What is your main asset in this market?
The watchword at Voxygen is quality. In a competitive universe which offers only black and white, Voxygen introduces color with its prototypical voices and relief thanks to multi-expressiveness. Our ability to listen and respond appropriately to the needs of our customers is the source of this know-how. Thus, for example, we have won the trust of SNCF, EDF, Météo France and RATP for the creation of voices specific to their context, faithful to their image.
Voxygen also has unique expertise in the creation of speech synthesis solutions in the national languages of sub-Saharan Africa. These are languages which are widely used orally but which are not formalized and for which everything has to be built. Our incremental language creation method allows us to respond to a large number of needs for very large populations, devoid of alternative solutions.
FW: What is the best advice you have been given and by whom?
Study. By a soldier.
FW: Who is the personality you admire the most?
The designer of Z6PO (a robot from the Star Wars saga of George Lucas)
- Thierry Moudenc, President
- Edouard Hinard, Managing Director
- Lene Kruse, Marketing & Sales Director
- Paul Bagshaw, Technical Director
- Olivier Rosec, Research & Development Director
- Eric Renaud, Production manager
- Philippe Bretier, Project Manager
- Ghislain Putois, R&D Engineer
Investors: Love Money (24 people, families and friends)
Creation date : creation in September 2011 and start of activities in December 2011
Number of employees : December 1 to 2 people, recruitment of 18 other people in 2012 and 2013 for a total workforce of 20 people at the end of 2013.
Sales figures : 481,000 euros in 2012.
Company based in: Pleumeur-Bodou.