Building Rapport: A conversation with our founders
An increasing number of customer interactions are taking place digitally, and as a result, there is a similar increase in the demand for authenticity in those interactions. To meet this demand, we are excited to be expanding our corporate vision with the announcement of Rapport - our real-time, cloud-based facial animation platform.
Building on our established Speech Graphics technology suite, Rapport allows us to align ourselves with the future of enterprise tech and the role digital characters will play in that context.
It has attracted $7M in Series A funding from investor Sands Capital, which is a story that’s already been picked up by VentureBeat.
“Our partnerships with Capita, Pandorabots, and Ready Player Me have allowed us to show possible use cases for the Rapport platform across a variety of industries. From gaming, hospitality, retail, education, and more, Rapport is enabling the idea of creating a digital presence,” says CEO, Dr. Gregor Hofer.
Speech Graphics was born of the desire to create realistic facial animation for digital characters in video games. Based on 11 years of research and development, the company launched with a proprietary technology that would map the nuances in voice performances to detailed models of the muscle systems involved in speech, to automate the production of highly accurate and believable facial animation. As well as saving studios a significant amount of time, effort, and money in realizing their creative vision for expressive dialogue, it also allowed for more immersive gaming experiences. And still does. From Shadow of Mordor, the first game to utilize Speech Graphics technology, to Halo, Gears of War 4 + 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and more.
“Our success working in the entertainment and gaming industry was what led to conversations with brands searching for real-time, enterprise-level applications of facial animation technology,” he continues.
“But facial animation is a complicated task,” adds CTO, Michael Berger. “It requires in-house expertise that many companies do not have the capability or resources for. Audio processing, real-time facial motion synthesis, low-latency streaming, 3D visualization, and more are needed to create the AI interactions these brands are looking for.”
Rapport removes those technical barriers and enables companies and developers to create authentic digital experiences for their customers through digital characters, powered by real-time facial animation. With Rapport, interactions with customer service don’t simply live in text threads, but instead, they thrive in conversations with digital characters.
Hofer concludes, “The metaverse, VR, and AR will increasingly rely on authentic digital representations of individuals as well as brands. Rapport is the platform that empowers organizations to do that at scale.”