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Sensory Brings Low-Power Wake Words to Mobile Apps

April 3, 2018

Santa Clara, Calif., April 3, 2018 – Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree speech recognition has been re-engineered to run ultra-low-power on Android and iOS mobile applications without special hardware

Sensory, a Silicon Valley-based company focused on improving the user experience and security of consumer electronics through state-of-the-art embedded AI technologies, today announced that it has made a significant breakthrough in running its TrulyHandsfree™ wake word and speech recognition AI engine directly on Android and iOS smartphone applications at low-power. As a software component, TrulyHandsfree can be adapted to any app without requiring special purpose hardware or DSPs to capture efficiencies in computing.

Introduced in 2009, TrulyHandsfree paved the way for the hands-free operation we have come to expect with today’s always-listening personal assistant solutions. When released it revolutionized voice user interfaces by offering the first commercially successful always-listening low power wake word. With each succeeding generation, TrulyHandsfree has continually upped the benchmark for always-listening speech recognition performance, by increasing accuracy, lowering power consumption, and running across an increasing number of hardware platforms at ultra-low-power consumption.

TrulyHandsfree has seen large commercial success by running on special purpose hardware for low-power operation. Companies like Avnera, Cirrus Logic, Conexant/Synaptics, CSR/Qualcomm, DSP Group, Knowles, QuickLogic, Realtek, XMOS and many others have penetrated the market for voice assistants using Sensory TrulyHandsfree technology. This specialized hardware approach has worked well for Sensory’s customers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola and other Android mobile providers who design their own phones and wearables with their choice of hardware.

Until now, always-listening wake word solutions for apps required too much power to be practical, especially for apps that remain open and active in the background. Additionally, having to maintain the same user experience across operating systems, and across all different devices added an extra layer of complexity. However, this isn’t the case anymore. TrulyHandsfree streamlines the implementation and coding process, allowing developers to quickly and easily deploy apps with power-efficient always-listening wake word and command set capabilities across all popular mobile and PC operating systems.

In 2017 Sensory embarked on investigations of using Qualcomm and ARM as more standard cross-platform solutions to figure out how to lower power consumption for wake words used across mobile platforms. Sensory came up with a series of independent actions that when combined could lower power consumption on a mobile app using a wake word by more than 80%, or a reduction of approximately 200mAh in a 12-hour day. That enables a mobile app wake word to consume approximately one-percent of the smartphone battery in 12 hours. To achieve this outstanding reduction in power consumption, Sensory utilized an approach known as “little-big,” which uses a very small model to identify an interesting event and then revalidates the event on a large model (both events are processed on the Application Processor). This method provides the optimal user experience of the big model only when needed, while maintaining the power consumption of the little model most of the time. Frame stacking approaches further cut certain wake word model processing functions’ MIPS in half with negligible accuracy impact. Additionally, multithreading has been deployed to allow more efficient processing of speech recognition and can significantly improve the speed of execution for larger wake word models.

“Hands-free operation for voice control has become the norm, and application developers are now looking to create hands-free wake words for their own apps,” said Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory. “For example, we recently helped Google’s Waze accept hands-free voice commands by supplying them with Sensory’s ‘OK Waze’ wake word that runs when the app is open. With previous versions of TrulyHandsfree, having our always-on wake word engine listening for the OK Waze wake word during a short trip would have had minimal effect on a smartphone’s battery, but for longer trips a more efficient system was desired – so we created it. Sensory is excited to now offer TrulyHandsfree with excellent low-power performance to all app developers!”

TrulyHandsfree is the most widely deployed embedded speech recognition engine in the world, having enabled a hands-free voice user experience on more than two billion devices from leading brands worldwide. TrulyHandsfree offers support for every voice UI application with several types of wake word options, such as independent fixed wake words, user enrolled fixed wake words, and user defined wake words. Sensory offers off-the-shelf wake word models for all major Assistant services, including Alexa, Hey Siri, OK Google, Hey Cortana, as well as wake word models for third-party devices that support cloud AI systems from Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Sensory can also combine multiple wake words into one solution and is the only supplier to have deployed numerous cross-assistant wake word solutions to the market.

Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree currently supports US English, UK English, Australian English, Indian English, Arabic, Dutch, French (EU and Canadian), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese (EU and Brazil), Russian, Spanish (EU, Latin America and US), Swedish and Turkish. An SDK for TrulyHandsfree is available for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, QNX and Windows. Sensory provides developer support for cloud service interfaces on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, Windows as well as support for dozens of proprietary DSPs, microcontrollers, smart microphones and other low-power embedded devices. SDK updates taking advantage of lower power TrulyHandsfree are now being rolled out for Android and iOS in Q2 2018.

For more information about this announcement, Sensory or its technologies, please contact sales@sensory.com; Press inquiries: press@sensory.com.

About Sensory
Sensory Inc. creates a safer and superior UX through vision and voice technologies. Sensory’s technologies are widely deployed in consumer electronics applications including mobile phones, automotive, wearables, toys, IoT and various home electronics. Sensory’s product line includes TrulyHandsfree voice control, TrulySecure biometric authentication, and TrulyNatural large vocabulary natural language embedded speech recognition. Sensory’s technologies have shipped in over a billion units of leading consumer products. 

TrulyHandsfree is a trademark of Sensory Inc.

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