AONDevices Chips Activated by Voice, Sound, Motion
JANUARY 31, 2023 | Orange County Business Journal
Turning on the dishwasher from a distance, using a smartphone, detecting a crying baby, controlling the family TV—it’s all part of voice recognition and commands, an area where Irvine-based AONDevices is beginning to make inroads.
The fabless semiconductor company, which specializes in “application-specific edge AI processors with high accuracy at ultra-low power,” showcased its AON1100 versatile chip system at the CES 2023 exposition earlier this month in Las Vegas.
To make things more efficient, the commands are “low latency” for fast reaction speed, says Mouna El Khatib, CEO of AONDevices. They use ultra-low power for battery-powered “always on” devices.
The uses for the company’s products are almost endless for the “always-on multi-wake-word detection” for voice and audio. The chips can also detect motion and other sensor data.
El Khatib says the chips could even be embedded in toothbrushes to detect motion and be sure kids are brushing their teeth thoroughly.
“Now the TV, whenever you talk to it and you say Channel A or B, it will recognize who is talking to it and will apply the parental control,” El Khatib told the Business Journal on Jan. 10.
El Khatib, who is also the company’s co-founder and chief technical officer, said “we have a super low-power solution” for convenient, adaptable use.
AONDevices counts about 30 employees including contractors, with half of them in the Orange County and San Diego areas, says El Khatib. It’s one of the newer entries on this week’s list of local chipmakers (see list, page 18).
She said the company has received almost $3 million in financing including money from “angel investors,” whom she didn’t name.
The chips can also detect for example, glass breaking or a baby’s crying, as well as in doorbells and smoke alarms, according to the CEO.
El Khatib said that the company started by licensing its hardware technology.
“Now we are bringing out our own chip,” she said.
Full production is expected in the third quarter.
AONDevices’ so-called full stack consists of machine learning chips, algorithms, a tool suite and training services.
“Customers don’t have the pain of going to different vendors,” according to the CEO. “We build a full solution.”
Founded in 2018 and located at 5270 California Ave., the firm currently has three large customers and is engaged with several companies, according to the CEO. The company declined to share revenue figures.
“Thanks to the efficiency of our tools, we can produce models for new use cases in a matter of hours or days instead of weeks or months as typically seen in other solutions,” says Germaine Ewing, business development director at AONDevices.
“When featured in phones, headsets, wearables, game controllers, toys, or in vehicles, smart home appliances, smart buildings, or industrial applications, AON’s technology allows constant sensing to detect multiple concurrent events,” the company says.
For example, AONVoice and AONSens cores can simultaneously recognize multiple voice commands and sound events, such as emergency sirens, machine anomalies and more, while also detecting specific motion patterns, such as walking or falling.
El Khatib previously held engineering leadership roles at Qualcomm as well as Conexant, a fore-runner of Irvine-based chipmaker Skyworks Solutions.Read More