Tom Cruise is the star of ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ but Sonantic put AI in the spotlight by enabling actor Val Kilmer to speak naturally in the movie.

Spotify Scoops Up Synthetic Voice AI Used for Val Kilmer’s Voice in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

With all the knocks and stock market drops that high tech has had to deal with in the last couple of months, would it surprise you to see Spotify is spending R&D money on a synthetic voice start-up? Well according to a piece we found at that’s exactly what is happening.

Today, the company announced that it is acquiring Sonantic, a London-based startup that has built an AI engine to create very realistic-sounding, yet simulated, human voices from the text.

The companies are not disclosing the financial terms of the deal. Sonantic had raised less than $3 million in funding from an interesting group of investors that included EQT Ventures, Entrepreneur First (EF), AME Cloud Ventures, Bart Swanson of Horizons Ventures, Twitch’s Kevin Lin, Jeremy Jap, Charles Jolley, and more.

It’s also not clear what the timing of the acquisition was and whether it came out of the startup looking for more fundraising, the success of the high-profile film exposure, or something else altogether.

You may not know the name Sonantic, but you may have seen its work. The company was founded to build AI-based realistic voice services for gaming and entertainment environments, and its technology helped bring Val Kilmer’s voice to life in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Kilmer had throat surgery after he contracted throat cancer a few years ago. Through the use of AI, he was able to at least simulate what he sounded like. He later shared the experience with his fans. When it was announced he would reprise his role from the original Top Gun, many wondered how he would be able to pull that off. And of course, the answer was AI from Sonantic.

“We’ve been aware of Sonantic’s technology for a while,” a spokesperson said in answer to the question. He also said that the whole of the Sonantic team will sit inside of the “Consumer and Platform BU in the Personalization Mission” led by Ziad Sultan, who is VP of personalization at Spotify.

Just how Spotify plans to use Sonantic is still not public. With the money Spotify has spent on podcasts, including Joe Rogan’s, it will integrate the start-up in ways that will include the gaming and movie projects already underway at Sonontic.

“We’re looking forward to joining Spotify and continuing to build exciting voice experiences,” say Sonantic co-founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn in a joint statement. “We believe in the power voice has and its ability to foster a deeper connection with listeners around the world, and we know we can be better than ever on the world’s largest audio platform.”

It looks like a rare win-win for both parties involved. And especially for Val Kilmer and his return to the big screen.