Wednesday, January 8 2020 12:38

Programmers from Armenia created a service that removes extraneous  sounds during calls

Programmers from Armenia created a service that removes extraneous  sounds during calls

ArmInfo.Programmers from Armenia created a service that removes extraneous sounds during calls via Skype, Slack and other VoIP services, the Internet resource vc.ru reports. With the help of neural networks, Krisp detects annoying noises (like a  crying child or the rustling of paper) and in real time cuts them out  of the audio stream. Krisp is a product of 2Hz company, which was  founded by two friends in 2017: Davit Baghdasaryan and Artavazd  Minasyan.

The user can choose which noises to block: incoming or outgoing. The  first method is suitable for situations when the interlocutor (or  interlocutors) is on a busy street. The second is when the user wants  to hide his surroundings. For example, if a call found him in a  coffee shop on the way to work. The application is able to  distinguish and suppress sounds such as the noise of a street, cafe  or airport, children's crying, rustling paper, knocking keys and many  others.

As stated in the article, Davit Baghdasaryan from his student years  he worked in outsourcing companies that created IT products for  foreign customers - including from the United States. One such  customer was Validity Sensors, which produced fingerprint scanners  for laptops and smartphones. In 2008, management suggested that  Baghdasaryan move to the United States and head the department of  information security.  In 2016, Baghdasaryan joined the company  Twilio, which is developing an API for corporate communications.  Using Twilio software, companies can receive and make calls, as well  as send and receive SMS. For example, Uber uses Twilio for calls  between passengers and drivers. , - says Baghdasaryan, -  "Okay, this is a classic problem that machine learning can solve. It  is necessary to teach the neural network what is noise and what is a  human voice, and to separate them. I was curious why no one had  decided it yet>. At the end of 2016, Baghdasaryan spoke about this  idea to his friend, Doctor of Mathematical Sciences Artavazd  Minasyan. By then, he already had several companies in the IT field.  In addition, he was just looking for interesting projects in the  field of machine learning.  Minasyan began to study how to implement  the idea, and attracted the familiar mathematician Stepan Sargsyan  (now he is the main research fellow at 2Hz).

In the fall of 2017, Baghdasaryan finally decided to move his whole  family to Armenia. A few weeks after their return, they, together  with Minasyan, opened 2Hz.

The first few months, the partners devoted to the development of  noise reduction technology (the Krisp application appeared only six  months later) and for this we selected a team of researchers. , - says  Baghdasaryan. The company needed to develop efficient algorithms that  could cut out extraneous sounds from audio in real time. To do this,  they had to solve a number of engineering problems. In a natural  conversation, the delay between voice transmission should not exceed  200 milliseconds. If the neural network does not have time to process  the audio during this time, communication will become problematic. It  took the 2Hz team several months to find the optimal combination  between noise reduction quality and speed. , says  Baghdasaryan.  As a result, the company developed a technology that  allows not only to remove noise, but to improve sound quality:  automatically fill in interrupts, adjust the volume and increase the  sampling frequency. All calculations occur in 15 milliseconds. At the  same time, according to the specification, for real-time  calculations, the minimum processor frequency should be more than 200  MHz. The clock speed of the processors that are used in modern  smartphones is much higher. Qualcomm 845 (used in Google Pixel 3,  Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Xiaomi Mi Mix3) has four cores with a  frequency of 2.8 GHz and 1.8 GHz.  Baghdasaryan thought that as soon  as the team develops an algorithm, by 2Hz there will be a line of  customers wishing to acquire the technology. However, this did not  happen. ,  - says the entrepreneur. An acquaintance advised Baghdasaryan to  undergo an acceleration program to learn about the needs of the  business. He said: "Do you really want to do business from the garage  without even knowing what the world really needs?" Why not go out and  study it?>. It was a fairly simple question, but we really did not  have the answer to the questions: .

Baghdasaryan still had contacts from people in Silicon Valley, and  they introduced him to representatives of the Berkeley accelerator  SkyDeck, which invests in research companies. SkyDeck approved a 2Hz  bid and made a seed investment of $ 100k. In addition, entrepreneurs  raised another $ 400 thousand from two funds from Armenia (Granatus  Ventures and SmartGateVC) and the American HIVE Ventures fund, which  invests in startups with Armenian roots.

Initially, Baghdasaryan planned to sell licenses for the removal of  unwanted sounds to manufacturers of equipment (for example,  smartphones or headsets), automobiles (to improve audio systems),  telecommunications operators (to improve communication quality), call  centers and developers of streaming services. Some accelerator  experts introduced entrepreneurs to company representatives who might  be interested in their technology. However, negotiations were  - they already used noise reduction technologies  (albeit less perfect) and did not see any reason to change something.  But Baghdasaryan noticed that people are delighted when he shows them  examples of how algorithms work.  Then the 2Hz team had an idea - to  develop a product for ordinary consumers, use it to talk about  technology and attract enterprise customers.

In April 2018, 2Hz began developing the Krisp application. And  although at that time the company failed to interest large customers,  American investors paid attention to the product. Seeing the  technology work in practice, they evaluated its prospects and  invested $ 1.5 million in the company. Two large funds took part in  the sowing round, which took place in the summer of 2018 - Sierra  Ventures and Shanda Group.  The company introduced Krisp in October  2018. According to Baghdasaryan, the Mac version has about tens of  thousands of installations. 2Hz in June 2019, the company released a  version of Krisp for Windows.  , - said the entrepreneur. Now 2Hz  plans to enter the services market to improve video quality.

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