Anandarajah signals Xtreme Interactions with next-gen computer science

October 17, 2013 - All News

Special to SAF
Joe Anandarajah is thinking ahead — way ahead.
The co-founder and CEO of Xtreme Interactions believes that our interactions with computers should be more like the way we interact with each other and with the real world.
With current technology, people have to constantly learn and master new computer applications and platforms, limiting their productivity. There must be a better way, he thought.
So the math, physics and chemistry whiz, with Engineering and MBA degrees to boot, came up with a solution: Simultaneous Speech and Gestures Processing — a more natural way for people to interact with computers.
To help realize this dream, Anandarajah launched his company, Xtreme Interactions, with the assistance of VentureStart, a program funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
Technology developed by Xtreme Interactions is aimed at helping users learn new applications much faster, and in the long term, it will impact all areas of computing. The technology will also significantly boost developer productivity.
Anandarajah expects Simultaneous Speech and Gestures technology to become new standard. He might be pardoned for striving to be his company’s best advocate, for industry experts feel this might be the next Google, or Facebook, happening right here in Mississauga.
One expert has even gone on record as saying Xtreme could soon be worth up to $10 billion.
That’s big bucks, offering a handsome return on investment — not to speak of the jobs potential — considering that VentureStart itself gave Xtreme just a $30,000 cash break.
VentureStart itself has to date received $7.5 million in funding through FedDev Ontario’s Scientists and Engineers in Business (SEB) initiative. The program provides emerging entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields with training, mentoring and seed financing to develop their ideas, commercialize their products and grow their companies.
“It’s been so exciting to see the practical, real life applications of FedDev programs like VentureStart come to life in Mississauga,” said Stella Ambler, Member of Parliament for Mississauga South. “Entrepreneurs have so much to offer but this program provides that nudge of support, which our government is delighted to provide. The result for our community is high-quality jobs and a better quality of life.”
Through FedDev Ontario’s support, VentureStart is helping program participants increase their business and management skills and their capacity to create successful companies and career opportunities.
The program is coordinated by the RIC (Research, Innovation, Commercialization) Centre in Mississauga and delivered through 13 provincially funded Regional Innovation Centres in Southern Ontario. Anandarajah received mentoring for Xtreme Interactions at Mississauga’s RIC Centre.
John Macdonald, the start-up’s assigned Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at RIC, provided Anandarajah with business advice and mentoring.
“I’m passionate about helping early stage technology firms build operational capability and sustain growth,” said Macdonald. “With the right business strategy, Xtreme Interactions has the talent and vision to make a huge impact in the business world.”
Through VentureStart, Anandarajah made valuable connections in his field and also gained insight from RIC’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) advisory panel. Feedback was encouraging: one of the panelists opined that Xtreme Interactions had the potential to become a $1-$10 billion company.
Not only did the start-up benefit from advice and connections, the $30,000 in VentureStart funds helped Xtreme Interactions with the nuts and bolts of developing a new business. With this funding, Xtreme Interactions could complete a patent search, then file the patent; release a beta version of its first app, xPlaces in May 2013 and a second beta app, xConnect in August, 2013; release videos of Xtreme Interactions technology; meet with leading mobile and automotive vendors to discuss licensing and custom development opportunities; add staff; and possibly secure additional investment.
“We are in discussions with some investors who see the potential and appreciate the progress we’ve made, as a result of VentureStart funding,” said Anandarajah.
The new entrepreneur has an impressive team to help Xtreme Interactions become a leading provider of Speech and Gesture based tools: Dr Jochen Alleyne, the chief platform officer has a PhD in Acoustics and Signal Processing with a minor in Computational Neurosciences/Neural Networks; and Dr Nicole Sookhai, MD is head of Education, Accessibility and Health Solutions. Advisors, collaborators and three staff complete the team.
Formed in 2012, the company is already getting a lot of attention.  Xtreme Interactions is partnering with local companies and licensing its technology to other application developers.
Anandarajah knows he has found a niche: “Mobility is becoming increasingly important. We’re seeing the emergence of wearable computing, like Google Glasses and the iWatch. Speech and/or Gestures is really taking off, but no one else seems to be pursuing Simultaneous Speech and Gestures.”
Simultaneous is the key word: accuracy of speech recognition is increasing, but by cross-correlating gesture information, error correction is greatly increased.
Xtreme Interactions also enables rapid text input when users prefer not to use voice.
Research shows that the human brain can process graphics and read text faster than listening to speech.
“For now, the apps we’re developing provide a good opportunity to demonstrate the technology’s capabilities and it’s a great way to learn and perfect our technology,” said Anandarajah. “But we expect it to be used in the mobile and automotive areas or in art, design, gaming presentations and spreadsheets.”
Xtreme Interactions has a promising future. Areas of upcoming focus include financial services, 3D printing and health care.
“Improving technology in health care is a key area for our company,” said Anandarajah. “This is where it is most needed.”
Technology developed by Xtreme Interactions will one day allow medical professionals to read and correlate medical data from a number of different sources to present a patient’s complete health picture with most likely far better accuracy than at present.
When it comes to the regular user, we will gradually see computers adapt to the way humans act. So don’t get too comfortable with your computer keyboard and mouse.
Anandarajah expects this technology, along with icons and menus, to be obsolete in five to 10 years.
And with the progress that Xtreme Interactions is making with Simultaneous Speech and Gestures, this prediction looks all the more probable.