Cypher - mobile audio technology - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2015

Fierce 15

Where it's based: Draper, Utah  
When it was founded: 2012
Websitewww.cyphercorp.com

Why it's Fierce:  Smartphones today emphasize processing power, camera quality, the latest apps and just about anything other than voice quality. The executives at Cypher Corp. want to change that. Cypher has developed a software that analyzes and identifies unique aspects of human voice and then separates the voice from background noise creating much better sound quality.

Specifically, Cypher used a neural network with a database of more than 40,000 human voices to create a small, fast algorithm capable of detecting speech and isolating that sound from all types of background noise. According to John Yoon, vice president of product at Cypher, the software can filter out up to 41 decibels of background noise, making for much better sound quality.

The software takes about 30 milliseconds to analyze the voice quality and Yoon said the company has worked hard to streamline the amount of processing power it takes to analyze the speaker's speech characteristics and weed out unnecessary noise. 

The company is privately funded by a group of angel investors.  Yoon said the company hopes to remain privately held and has avoided getting funding from institutional investors.

Cypher Corp. executives have a history of working for successful startups. CEO John Walker was the founding employee of storage company Fusion-io and helped it raise $100 million in venture funding. Yoon, meanwhile, worked for Verve Living Systems where he helped launch energy saving wireless controls for commercial, hospitality and residential applications. He also previously worked for Ericsson and GE.

Dr. Erik Sherwood is one of the math experts behind the software development. An applied mathematician, Sherwood helped teaching, research and faculty positions at Cornell University, Boston University and University of Utah.

What's Next: Cypher's software has been written so it works on a DSP core from CEVA, which are used in smartphones from manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics, Huawei, Lenovo, HTC and LG Electronics.  Yoon said the company is in discussions with handset makers, chipset providers and VoIP application developers to get its technology implemented. He added that he thinks there will be a couple implementations by year-end.

Interestingly, the company has many different avenues for software deployment. Yoon said it can be embedded in a chip or smartphone but it also can be deployed as part of a VOIP application or be integrated into a smartphone operating system.

Beyond smartphones, Yoon said the company believes there is potential for its software to be used in car audio systems and also in hearing aids.

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Cypher - mobile audio technology - wireless startups - Fierce 15 2015