SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

September 5, 2012

Danvers' Eliza Corp. sends health-related messages with heart

Eliza Corp. wants you to be understood

(Continued)

Eliza’s technology not only handles calls that you place to your doctor’s office or insurer, it was one of the first speech recognition companies to focus on making outbound calls to patients.

The company’s solutions, which also include email, text messaging and social media, are seen as vital today in an era of health care cost consciousness on the eve of major reforms, Drane and Merrow said.

A growing company

As Eliza outgrew its space in the Cummings Center in Beverly, it decided to move to a cavernous open office at 75 Sylvan St. in Danvers, the redeveloped former Sylvania light plant. Now, it can accommodate its growing workforce of just under 200 people in one space. The company started above a beauty salon on Cabot Street before moving to Cummings for the past decade, Merrow said.

The company’s name comes from Eliza Doolittle, whose thick accent elocution teacher Henry Higgins tried to erase in “My Fair Lady.” That’s why there’s a print of Audrey Hepburn, who played Doolittle in the 1964 musical, hanging on the wall in the front lobby.

“It is not for us to tell you to fix your (lazy) ‘L,’” Drane said, “It is up to us to understand how you talk and support that.”

The system has to deal with scenarios such as someone coughing or wheezing from emphysema or an elderly wife who picks up the phone for her husband with the TV on in the background. It even has to understand someone who has had his voice box removed and speaks with an artificial larynx.

The company deals with 44 dialects in U.S. English, Merrow said.

At its core, Eliza is an information technology company, a pioneer in cutting-edge speech recognition software that announced Aug. 6 that it was awarded its 15th patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for what it calls a “complex acoustic resonance speech analysis system” used to simulate human interactions.

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