May 4, 2022 - Economy

Live caption company scores $10M

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Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Ava, a live-captioning tech startup company, has raised a $10 million series A funding round, CEO Thibault Duchemin exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: With more than 450 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people around the world, the real-time communication access and transcription market is $20 billion.

How it works: Ava's technology was used during the filming of Apple's Oscar-winning "CODA" to help the deaf actors and their hearing counterparts communicate with each other.

  • Ava has three main products: a web and desktop app, a mobile app and Scribe, which combines Ava's artificial intelligence with a human editor.
  • Each product is designed to let its users see real-time closed captions layered over any online or video meeting.
  • In the case of Scribe, as Ava's AI transcribes the speech, a human edits them to be accurate.
  • So far, Ava offers captioning in 12 languages.

The big picture: The pandemic has made remote working — and thus, communicating via video chat — more of the norm. For the deaf community, that has only furthered the need for fast and accurate captioning services.

  • Additionally, the frequent use of masks, particularly in office settings, has taken away lip-reading as a means of communication.
  • "During COVID, there were a lot of disruptions happening, because a lot of people started seeing masks and not being able to connect," Duchemin says. "Usually, people prioritize having a solid telecommunication platform for the rest of the company, or the university and its classes, that are not necessarily accessible. Zoom captions, for example, didn't exist for a whole year and a half."

Between the lines: Ava is a personal matter for Duchemin, who grew up as a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) himself.

  • Duchemin believes that recent movies like "CODA" and Amazon's "The Sound of Metal" have put more mainstream focus on the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

Tim Baysinger co-authors the Axios Pro Media deals newsletter. Sign up now.

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