Israel-based Beyond Verbal, which analyzes speech to determine human emotion and wellbeing, has raised $3.3 million in a round led by Hong Kong investment holding company KuangChi Science, with participation from Winnovation and Singulariteam. This brings its total Series A round at over $7 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The company, founded in 2012, launched its Beyond Wellness API in 2014, which turns any smartphone or mic-equipped wearable device into an emotional wellbeing sensor using technology that doesn’t consider the actual content or context of spoken word, but instead studies intonation in the voice. The company has two free, consumer-facing apps, Moodie and Empath, and one for clinicians called Beyond Clinic.
The goal is to enable voice-powered devices and apps to interact with the user on an emotional level, “just as humans do,” according to Beyond Verbal’s website. Built on 21 years of research, the company has cataloged 2.3 million voice samples across 170 countries, and has been granted eight patents for its API.
"We as humans, are pretty good ... at understanding other peoples' emotions," Beyond Verbal's VP of Marketing and Strategic Accounts Dan Emodi told MobiHealthNews in 2014. "Where we are normally blindsided actually is about ourselves. We have less understanding of what we reflect to the outside world. And, of course, machines are mostly clueless when it comes to emotions. They know what we say, touch, and where we are, but they are basically blindsided by emotion. As a company our true goal is to [give] machines the ability to communicate with humans on an emotional level."
Use cases on the site describe how its offerings can improve communication between a person and themselves, their peers, and their devices. For example, the API can be used to help someone monitor how they are coming across to others, keep track of their emotions during driving, or even add a dimension to online dating. They can also help a user work with their virtual assistant, like iPhone’s Siri, to tailor their daily activities.
The funding will be used to expand Beyond Verbal’s research and development in the health and wellness realm, plus commercialize the company's existing products, Venture Beat reported.