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OuluHealth on julkaissut artikkelin Speech Software Makes the World a Better Place. Artikkeli käsittelee Code-Q:n teknologian hyödyntämistä terveydenhuollon alalla.

Speech Software Makes the World a Better Place

Oulu has a supportive infrastructure for technology, health and business innovation. But what kind of innovation are we talking about? And how does it contribute to our sense of well-being?

This month we talk to Tapio Koivuniemi from Code-Q, to find out how this company is contributing to innovation in the realms of health.

Code-Q, located on the fifth floor of a stylish building at Kirkkokatu, is a privately- owned software company focusing on speech recognition technology.

One of the four founders and co-owners, Tapio Koivuniemi, opens the door and invites me into a small kitchen where the coffee is already waiting.

“We were already focusing on speech recognition and mobile phones before we started with Code-Q”, explains the 42- year- old entrepreneur and software engineer, referring to his previous work at Nuance, a software company in Oulu.

Together with Teijo Kinnunen, Jarkko Koivikko and Tuomas Tuononen, all experienced in speech recognition technologies  and localized user interfaces, Tapio founded Code-Q in 2013.

 Before registration the men headed to Business Oulu, a business facilitating organization, and then to Ely-Keskus, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. After one interview the men were granted start up- funding for one year to develop a speech recognition platform that guarantees easy access for customers.

“The very first version, in Finnish, was ready exactly a year after we´d started the company” explains Tapio.

In addition to this kind of software, -DialoQ, offers speech controlled accessibility software for Android devices and a Q-Framework (QFW), speech recognition framework for local, server and hybrid recognition.

With only a few clients during that year, the men quickly realized how difficult it was to sell the technology. “We met with a lot of companies but none of them urgently needed speech recognition” says Tapio.

But all that changed when the men decided to tour events and fairs to sell their product and meet with the Finnish Federation of Visually Impaired and “Kajo Apuvälineet” in Finland.

“They said after I´d showed them our product, that there was an urgent need for a mobile device for visually impaired persons and people who cannot use their hands –like patients with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (Multiple Scleroses ) or visually impaired persons” declares Tapio who met as well with representatives from the Visual Impaired Association, in Helsinki.

Through the auspices of the Finnish Federation of Visually Impaired, the company got invited to the Assistive Technology Fair in Tampere by the end of 2013.

“We got advice to walk around, and see with our own eyes whether or not there is a need for speech recognition” smiles Tapio, who immediately realized that they we´re dealing with a very small market in Finland.

“There are some Finnish companies but they only provide speech recognition for instance, for the call centers” explains Tapio.

After the visit to the fair, the company received phone calls from potential clients asking if and how, they can utilize the technology and where they can buy the product.

Subsequently, in the autumn of 2014 the men visit “Kajo Apuvälineet” to discuss the need for a helper tool, resulting in new pilot customers to test the product.

Tapio shows me how his phone, sitting on the table in front of him before him on the table, responds to his voice.

“Kuule” (listen) he says in calm voice.

The phone reacts. “Deng” .

“Soita (call) Henrik,” says Tapio.

“With DialoQ, users can use all basic features on their phones, including voice and video calls and short messages, completely hands- free,” he explains.

Tapio, who’s been in touch with some of the users, smiles to himself, “I met with people who never have been able to send a text message before. They can be independent now. They can even answer the phone and if the family is worried because they won´t get a reply then DialoQ´ will automatically answer, or even receive a video call to show that everything is ok. It´s a big step in people´s life” he continues.

Currently, Code-Q is working on Swedish and Norwegian versions as the Finnish version is ready and the market is limited. For now, the company focusses on the Scandinavian countries as, in contrary to the competition in the USA, the Scandinavian market has not that many competitors yet.

Tapio, who´s who is responsible for marketing and sales, enthusiastically continues details the advantages of -speech recognition technology and DialoQ software. “Our software doesn’t require Internet connection and you can configure some numbers that will be automatically answered” he says. “That is one of the features that I haven´t seen elsewhere”.

The company constantly gets questions about, for instance, whether alarm clock or calendar events can be set by voice. A special version of DialoQ for Visually Impaired allows people to ask the phone about locations or for instance, about the battery level. These requests from users are important as it helps the company to get more accustomed to and customizing for sight-impaired clients.

Speaking for a group at the association for the visually impaired he learnt from the audience that most people have 5-10 devices at home that could easily be combined into one mobile phone.

To show me again how a voice controlled phone works, he glances at his mobile phone on the table and says:

“Kuule - kellon aika?” (What is the time?)

–“ kymmenen”- (ten o clock)

Currently, Code-Q is also working on a voice controlled mouse system, which will allow persons to fully control their PC’s by using speech only.

For people interested in the software of Code-Q, the Finnish version DialoQ is distributed via Kajo Apuvälineet in Tampere . For other versions you can contact Code-Q directly.

Tapio finds the reactions of the pilot customers heart-warming. “It´s touching to see how people, who always had to rely on another person to press the keys, can suddenly manage by themselves.”

Oulu is a good place to start a business. “It is easy to find premises and to hire software engineers,” he explains. “However, on the downside, finding customers in Oulu is really hard.”, he concludes.

Aaltje Bos


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