Startup VocalZoom is building a sensor that measures the vibrations of your face to make it easier for you to control technology with your voice.

From Siri to Alexa to Cortana, we’re talking to virtual assistants more than ever before. They can still have trouble understanding simple commands to play music or look up directions, though, especially in noisy places.

Rather than focusing on cleaning up the audio signal that captures your voice, Israeli startup VocalZoom thinks it might be possible to make all kinds of speech-recognition applications work a lot better by using a tiny, low-power laser that measures the itty-bitty vibrations of your skin when you speak.

The company, which has raised about $12.5 million in venture funding thus far, is building a sensor with a small laser that it says will initially be built into headsets and helmets; there, it will be used alongside existing speech-recognition technologies that rely on microphones in order to reduce overall misunderstandings.

VocalZoom founder and CEO Tal Bakish thinks it will first be used for things like motorcycle helmets or headsets worn by warehouse workers—you might use it to ask for directions while riding your Harley, for instance. A Chinese speech-recognition company called iFlytek plans to have a prototype headset ready at the end of August. Bakish also expects it to be added to cars by 2018 for giving voice commands when you’re behind the wheel. The company has joint-development agreements with several automotive companies, though he won’t name them on the record, and he’s interested in getting the technology into smartphones, too.

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