Monday 6 June 2016 7:00 am

An ex-Nasa chief has revealed a stealth startup that's built "military-grade" Apple Siri voice recognition technology

A startup founded by a former top boss at Nasa has emerged from so-called stealth mode with technology that claims to beat Apple, Google and Microsoft's voice recognition technology.

Dan Goldin, who spent nearly all of the 1990s leading Nasa, has revealed KnuEdge, a machine learning company that already boasts Fortune 500 clients and $100m in private funding despite its under the radar nature for the last decade.

“We are not about incremental technology. Our mission is fundamental transformation,” said Goldin 

“We were swinging for the fences from the very beginning, with intent to create next-generation technologies that will in essence alter how humans interact with machines, and enable next-generation computing capabilities ranging from signal processing to machine learning.”

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The US-based firm has revealed its first product, KnuVerse, which it claims is a military-grade voice recognition and authentication technology, and believes it is more powerful than the most advanced but early stage voice recognition used in services such as Apple's Siri and Google's Home and Alexa.

Voice recognition can be used for more secure access to banking among other things in a similar way to fingerprint technology. Biometrics – using data from the body – is seen as an increasingly better way of managing security rather than pins and passwords.

The firm said it's in talks with large banks and entertainment companies to implement the technology.

The firm has also built a new computer chip, Knupath, which is not based on the traditional architecture of the chips currently used in smartphones and other high tech devices and which "dramatically pushes the performance envelope for machine learning and artificial intelligence,” according to Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecoms and IT (Calit2). The institute is part of the University of California and has been collaborating on development.

“Our UC San Diego team is very impressed with the LambdaFabric processor's revolutionary design, which delivers unprecedented levels of performance and scalability. We plan to incorporate KnuEdge solutions into Calit2's Pattern Recognition Laboratory as we jointly push the boundaries of big data analytics.” 

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The chip making nature of the newly revealed business puts it in competition with firms such as ARM, Intel, AMD and Nvidia.

There is a "refreshing surprise element to KnuEdge" said Paul Teich, an analyst at Tirias Research: "… a relevant new architecture that is ready to ship, not just a concept or early prototype."

KnuEdge has been under the radar for more than a decade and has undisclosed backers who have invested in the longer term in comparison to some traditional Silicon Valley investors, and "that would enable truly breakthrough inventions" the firm said.