New Zealand impact startup Kara Technologies has raised NZ$1.3 million in Seed funding to make sign language more accessible in the media for the deaf.
The round was led by Sydney VC Investible and featured Kiwi VCs Te Pae ki te Rangi, Quident Ventures, Icehouse Ventures and Startmate.
Kara is building a fairer and more accessible global communications system for the deaf community through a combination of motion capture, AI and neural network algorithms. They have developed digital people, avatars with hi-fi faces and emotional expressions, which are easy to understand for their audience.
Co-founders Arash Tayebi, Sahar Izadi, Farmehr Farhour and Ken Erskine wanted to enable 24/7 digital availability of sign language by translating media content such as video, audio or text.
Tayebi, Kara’s CEO, said current best practices such as captioning are widely regarded as inadequate for dealing with the deaf, while sign language interpreters are not widely used due to barriers in availability, urgency and sheer scale.
“This capital injection and the support of our strategic investors will enable Kara Technologies to further engage with the deaf community and scale our technology platform to enable greater accessibility to important information and valuable content,” he said. .
Investible investment manager Jayden Basha said the market opportunities are significant.
“Kara Tech has established fruitful partnerships with government agencies, platforms and entertainment leaders to bridge an important communication gap,” he said.
“Emergency response systems to online and social media will be able to leverage the incredible product.”
dr. Jamie Newth of the New Zealand impact fund Te Pae ki te Rangi said Kara Technologies has a unique, high-potential impact opportunity.
“We love Kara’s commercial and deep impact proposal, as well as the founders – talented, committed and with deep integrity,” he said.
“For us, Kara is an impact VC case study – they show what’s possible when you combine technology, community validation and aligned capital.”