3M Announces Investment and Collaboration with VocalZoom Ltd. Aimed at Developing Voice-Enabled User Interface Technologies

  3M Announces Investment and Collaboration with VocalZoom Ltd. Aimed at
  Developing Voice-Enabled User Interface Technologies

Business Wire

ST. PAUL, Minn. & YOKNEAM, Israel -- November 26, 2012

Today 3M Company, through its corporate venture organization 3M New Ventures,
and VocalZoom Ltd., a leading developer of speech enhancement technology that
enables voice communication and recognition in any environment, announced an
equity investment and collaboration that will bring a new class of
voice-enabled user interfaces to a broad range of customers. The terms of the
transaction were not disclosed.

“While touch capability has become the defacto standard for user interfaces,
voice activation is also gaining more and more momentum to enable hands-free
operation of state-of-the-art devices. VocalZoom’s technology will accelerate
this trend by enabling the use of voice in even the most demanding
environments,” said Yechiel Kurtz, chairman of VocalZoom. “3M’s investment and
collaboration provides us with new and exciting opportunities, such as
integration of our sub-system into 3M’s display and touch technology as well
as a broad range of additional applications.”

VocalZoom was founded in 2009 with the mission to enable use of speech for
communication and voice activation purposes in any natural environment, by
developing an optoelectronic microphone that significantly improves the
speaker’s understanding in any noisy environment. While conventional
approaches focus on filtering and signal processing to isolate the voice from
ambient noise, VocalZoom is applying its patented technology that integrates a
standard acoustic microphone and a special optical sensor to solely detect the
speaker’s voice. The benefits are essential for next generation user
interfaces, providing high directivity, speaker isolation, improved signal
quality, and precise voice activity detection.

“For voice activation to become ubiquitous it must seamlessly work in any
environment regardless of the level of background noise. VocalZoom is a
critical enabler for a new generation of user interfaces that do not just rely
on touch or gestures but also on our voice to input data,” said Stefan
Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures. “The investment in VocalZoom will help
us to complement our existing technology in this field, and to collaboratively
develop new products for our OEM customers.”

“We see a great variety of applications in which people may prefer voice as a
means to interact with their personal device environment, including their
industrial work places, hospitals, or commercial kiosks, and even consumer
electronics,” said Robert Visser, vice president of research and development
of 3M’s Energy and Electronics business group. “VocalZoom’s signal capturing
system adds a critical component to 3M’s technology portfolio in user
interfaces and acoustics to enable novel solutions for those spaces.”

“Israel is one of the most vibrant technical and entrepreneurial regions in
the world and there are plenty of opportunities for 3M. VocalZoom is our very
first investment and we look forward to other investments in Israeli high tech
startups,” said Nir Leshem, managing director of 3M Israel.

3M New Ventures, headquartered in Munich, Germany, identifies and invests in
highly innovative companies and disruptive new technologies with strategic
relevance for 3M.

About VocalZoom

VocalZoom, based in Yokneam Israel, was founded in 2009 with the mission to
enable Voice Communications and Voice Recognition in virtually any
environment. Its unique OptoElectric speech-enhancement microphone provides
the means to maintain high recognition rates under any noisy conditions, a key
element for realizing the potential of speech as a leading Natural User
Interface.  For more information, visit www.vocalzoom.com

About 3M

3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of
ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a
never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the
innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M
employs 84,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 65 countries.
For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter.


Donna Fleming Runyon, 651-736-7646
Yechiel Kurtz, +972-(54)-4308886
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