The spark for EVE came over a year ago. But how does an idea become a company? Sometimes it’s chance, and sometimes even the result of failure.
Our subsidiary, PAGES Media, has been producing films for our client Microsoft since 2012, including customer reference videos and event clips across Europe. In conjunction, we coordinated manual captions for the hearing impaired. According to Microsoft’s internal guidelines, events of a certain size require captions. In the US, such captions are standard and CEO Satya Nadella himself has a handicapped child. He is sensitized to the needs of the disabled and is very active in addressing accessibility with technology. Over the years, we arranged for flights and accommodations for teams of stenographers to hack away at their keyboards at events around the world.
Things didn’t always go smoothly. Some Skype caption services rely on a browser window with task bar that clutter the screen area of the captions. When the browser itself can’t be keyed out, the menu bar and symbols are featured on the large event screen and become distracting to the audience. When this happens at a large event during a presentation by a board member, for example, it compromises the corporate image of the company.
Human error can also present certain challenges, especially when the stenographers lack experience or necessary concentration. This can result in a high error quotient or long delays. This is unsatisfactory for both the client and for us.
We asked ourselves what would be a more reliable approach. Would it not be possible to use speech recognition for real-time captioning and let stenographers spot check from the comfort of their own workspace? Even after our initial tests, we were already convinced. If this can work with even our lousy laptop microphone inside our noisy office space, it should work even better with professional audio equipment and optimized source code.
At that moment, we realized that we had found something special… a digital product that really helps people! Improving on this product kept me awake at night while I pondered how to use artificial intelligence for an even better result. The machine does the work and the human does the checks. We quickly identified developers and the project was launched, financed by my own personal savings and resources. Above all, I was motivated by the pride in doing something meaningful that could help others and still become a savvy business opportunity. In the meantime, EVE has already undergone a live test and will be launched shortly.
At first, EVE was coined EVA, a German acronym derived from the basic principles of data processing: Eingabe-Verarbeitung-Ausgabe (or input-processing-output). This describes how programs are fundamentally structured. In our case, the service receives voice data, processes it into text (text to speech), and delivers output. Simple and targeted. But the name EVA felt too devout and reverent for us, and so EVE was chosen as a more accessible and global brand name. EVE now stands for Eingabe-Verarbeitung-Eingabe (or input-processing-input). This still makes sense as an acronym, since the new “E” came to represent the valuable input provided to the hearing impaired. This is how EVE was born.
The name change initially proved challenging for us because we had been talking about EVA for so long. IT folders, presentation materials and the like had already been baptized with the former name. After several weeks of transition, we ultimately got it right and the name EVE settled in to eventually become second-nature. Surely, EVE would have learned it faster 😉.
Naturally, our logo is also no coincidence. Our great designer, Ursl, gave this a lot of thought. She slid the VE over the E, making the logo feel more unified. Our guiding principle is that society can only be a functioning unit when we consider the needs of others and value inclusion. Those who do not include invariably exclude. There is really nothing in between. In turn, this principle is reflected in the accessibility of communication for all, made possible by EVE.