Audio Analytic is using Alconbury Enterprise Campus to help develop groundbreaking software after securing £900k angel funding and a further £350k from the UK innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.
The company is developing technology which uses sound recognition systems to transform security systems: enabling them to not just see but hear things going on.
The software automatically recognises sounds and can trigger alerts for incidents which might not be picked up by a CCTV camera lens: for example breaking of glass out of sight of the camera, a gun shot or car alarms going off.
Louisa Kelly who has been leading the work at Alconbury Campus said:
“At the moment we are training and testing the software system to recognise the different sounds. This week that involves breaking lots of different sizes and types of windows and closely recording the sound of that. When we spoke to Urban&Civic about space at Alconbury, we were amazed that one of the military buildings here has this incredible space for us to set everything out and a sound-proofed booth which is exactly what we needed to get the sound as clear and clean as possible.”
The building – called the “Hush House” – was previously used for testing jet engines, and as well as housing a sound-proofed booth the whole hangar absorbs sounds made inside the building so the team can smash away as much as they like without disturbing other tenants.
The technology is already transforming the way security systems work – both commercially and domestically. Systems using Audio Analytic’s technology are already used in prisons and hospitals, but will increasingly become mainstream for CCTV systems in town centres and business parks. Increasingly security systems linked to smart-phone monitors will also mean householders can be alerted to alarms or irregular sounds in the home, such as smoke alarms, and check them out: linking up to the pictures or the sound reader to know what is going on.
Founder and CEO, Chris Mitchell, knows that demand will keep increasing:
“Opportunities are coming in thick and fast and we already have international businesses including US technology giant Cisco Systems licensing the technology. There is massive scope for growth in the home consumer market and as we develop this technology to identify more sounds it can transform the way that we manage security and peace of mind in our day to day lives: whether that’s keeping an eye on homes, businesses, cars, pets or babies.”
The TSB funding is for two projects collaborating on sound systems with Queen Mary University London. The £900k was raised almost entirely from Cambridge Angels with one or two notable exceptions, including Sean Phelan, the founder of Multimap.
Mitchell added: “We are nine people currently but need to grow significantly in the next six months. We are urgently seeking six good programmers with signal processing and audio backgrounds. We will also be looking at sales capability as we progress and want to build our links with Cambridge to exploit both the technological and international trade links there.
“We have been so lucky to find facilities here which are just perfect for the research and testing we need to do and are very grateful to the Alconbury team for letting us use the Hush House’s facilities”
Tim Leathes, Project Director for Urban&Civic the owners and developers of Alconbury Campus, said:
“Audio Analytic are a great example of how the Campus – in its old buildings and new – can support the development of R&D for start-ups. We are pleased to support Chris and the team with this exciting stage of the company’s development and the ground-breaking nature of their work.”