July 19, 2010

Racine's Perceptral listed in 'Top Secret America' investigation

The Washington Post has an explosive new series out about "Top Secret America," a hidden fourth branch of government founded after 9/11. The newspaper reports that 850,000 people in the U.S. are secretly employed in government agencies or work for government-sponsored companies.

See the series here.

The report's interactive map and data lists one top secret company in Racine, though the company isn't much of a secret. Perceptral, at 403 6th St. in Racine, is owned by Jonathon Pearl, who won RAMAC's 2010 Apollo Award for new and innovative businesses. Pearl also spoke at a small business development class about his company's efforts to develop technology to analyze and modify speech and sound.

Here's a description from the Perceptral website:
Perceptral was founded in May 2008 by Dr. Jonathan Pearl, to become the premier sound technology firm with a focus on improved handling of speech prosody. A great wealth of information, naturally encoded in speech and normally accessible to human listeners: is not exploited in human-machine interactions; remains unavailable to the hearing and vocally impaired who use technology to complete communications; and lies beyond the reach for business, information, and entertainment functions. The ability to produce high-quality, realistic, flexible, and animated voices eludes current providers, because the means to capture, classify, and synthesize these elements of speech have not been commercially developed. The promise of Perceptral's technology is to fill this unmet need.
Pearl is a really interesting guy. He's a trained opera singer who moved with his family from California to Racine to start a business. Based on his opera training, he came up with some ideas for sound technology and landed a military contract to work on the idea.

Here's a recent article from BizTimes about Pearl and Perceptral.