Belfast-based technology specialist Liopa has commercially launched the world’s first automated Lip Reader.

The service will initially be used to prevent ‘spoofing’ in Facial Recognition systems where there is a threat of compromise from images or videos of the subject being presented by an imposter.

The initial application, called LipSecure, is currently in commercial trials with a number of Facial Recognition companies.

Liopa’s technology is based on Visual Speech Recognition (VSR) and analyses a speaker’s lip movements to decipher what they are saying. It uses advanced AI-based techniques and can be used on any device with a standard camera.

Liam McQuillan, Liopa CEO, says: “There has been considerable research done in the VSR area over the last 10 years. This has grown exponentially of late, largely due to the increased use of voice to drive applications such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa.

“VSR has been shown to perform well in a lab environment but getting it to work accurately in the real world, and on a mobile device, is incredibly difficult. Our technology can cope with speaker head movement, varying lighting conditions, poor resolution – all things that will happen in everyday use. Being the first to launch a VSR service is a fantastic achievement.”

Liopa’s technology is the product of over 50-man years of research into Visual Speech Recognition, conducted in Queen’s University, Belfast.

There are many potential use cases for Liopa’s VSR as McQuillan explains:

“The initial LipSecure application only needs to support a very small vocabulary. As we extend this vocabulary we can do a lot more. We are launching a communication aid for patients who have impaired speech early next year and hope to be embedding our technology in lots of voice-driven applications throughout 2019.”…mated-lip-reader/

Liopa secure investment

Liopa has secured $1million in funding – led by its initial backers, techstart NI, and QUBIS – which will enable it to commercialise the LipRead platform and actively market it for global use. Its latest investors include the AI Seed Fund which exclusively supports start-ups that harness Artificial Intelligence to create leading edge tech solutions. The funding round was also supported by Co-Fund NI which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers.

Liopa secure investment

Liam McQuillan (Liopa CEO), Richard McConnell (Liopa COO), Hal Wilson (TSNI), David Crozier (CSIT)

Developed following 10 years of research by the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University, LipRead uses the camera on a smartphone or tablet to analyse lip movement and decipher words and phrases.

LipRead’s primary function will be improving the accuracy of commonly used voice-driven assistants (such as Siri, Cortana or Alexa) and voice activated applications in noisy environments such as vehicles, offices & factories.

Other potential uses of the lip-reading technology, which will be multi-lingual, include:
– An aid for the hard of hearing via automated subtitling
– Word/phrase search in uploaded video
– Human-robotic interaction; and
– Preventing authentication fraud (aka Anti-spoofing)

Confirming the latest funding milestone, Liam McQuillan said: “Voice is forecast to overtake the keyboard and mouse as the primary means of interacting with mobile & computing applications. The big stumbling block however is the accuracy of current voice technologies in real world environments – commands get misinterpreted frequently due to background noise. LipRead will augment current technologies and provide this much needed accuracy, thus ensuring the success of the ‘Voice UI’.

Hal Wilson of techstart NI added his support: “Liopa brings together great technology, a strong team and an exciting market opportunity This latest funding round marks a significant step forward and will support the team’s plans to bring the LipRead technology to market.”

As another early stage funder, John Spindler, General Partner at AI Seed said: “Liopa is a great example of a team with a pedigree of research tackling challenges in visual speech recognition using the latest advances in machine learning.”

Liopa is led by seasoned entrepreneurs Liam McQuillan and Richard McConnell. Together they have been involved in the creation of several indigenous NI tech start-up companies that have successfully developed software products for the worldwide market and have achieved substantial exit values.

Dr Darryl Stewart and Dr Fabian Campbell-West, world-renowned authorities in Visual Speech Recognition & Computer Vision, are also part of the Liopa team and have spearheaded the research behind LipRead.

Visual Speech Recognition - Read My Lips photo

Neil Briscoe, renowned Motoring journalist, pens excellent article on Liopa’s LipREAD in an in-vehicle environment.


Liopa recently completed a ‘pre-seed’ funding round designed to take the company through development of technology demonstrator and early market proving.

Liopa CEO, Liam McQuillan, commented “we are greatly encouraged by the willingness of our investor partners to support us at this early point in our journey.  This strong backing, clear market need for our Visual Speech recognition technology and our exceptionally strong founding team give Liopa every chance to succeed”

Liopa were today named the best new start and best early stage companies respectively at the regional final of the 2016 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.

With a global market for the technology, Liopa’s CEO, Liam McQuillan, viewed the Seedcorn process as an opportunity to develop the company’s pitch as Liopa gained exposure to the investment community.  They will use the prize money to assist in the production of the first market-ready product.

Now in its 14th year, Seedcorn is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies in any sector, from any part of the island.  The competition, aimed at companies which have a new equity funding requirement, has an overall cash prize fund of €280,000, with no equity stake taken.  Since its inception in 2003, companies that have gone through Seedcorn and reached regional final level, have leveraged in excess of €200m.  Encouragingly, so far for last year alone, this figure stands at more than €10 million.

Pictured with Connor Sweeney, InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Project Manager, is Liam McQuillan of Liopa Ltd, winner of the Early Stage catagory in the Northern Ireland final of the 2016 Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition. The company has secured £20,000 to help finance their ventures and will now go on to compete in the all-island final will take place at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on 23 November. The Northern Ireland finalists will go head-to-head with the Dublin, Munster and Connacht & Leinster finalists for the titles of Best Category winner, worth €50,000 and the Overall Winner, worth €100,000.




Liopa were recently selected as a Finalist in the prestigious IPASCO ICT Security awards.  Liopa’s unique Lip-based Biometric Authentication solution impressed the judges in this highly competitive category.

Liopa CEO, Liam McQuillan, commented “It’s great to get such a strong validation of our unique solution from the IPASCO panel of experts – both from a technical and market perspective.  We plan to commercially launch our solution by mid-2016 and this type of recognition will undoubtedly help in our roll-out”

ABOUT IPASCO AWARDS :- IPACSO (Innovation Framework for Privacy and Cyber Security Market Opportunities) is a private consortium aimed at supporting Privacy and Cyber Security innovations in Europe. Its aim is to support ICT Security innovators with State of the Art methodologies and best practices in their innovation process, that will help them to find their road to market faster, more effective and more efficient. IPACSO is supported by the European Commission, and aims to improve the competitiveness of the European Cyber Security & Privacy market. Each year in October, Europe’s most innovative and forward-thinking researchers and entrepreneurs gather in Brussels, recognising those who are bolstering Europe’s cyber security landscape. With the awards, the IPACSO consortium, supported by the European Commission under FP7, support Privacy and Cyber Security Innovations ‘Made in Europe’.