Joseph Zirah, the quietly ambitious

Without boasting or false modesty, Joseph Zirah is riding the wave of success that has made him one of the key players in innovation in Languedoc-Roussillon. Portrait of a pure product of Montpellier training.

He's not one to look back, but Joseph Zirah will no doubt long remember his meeting with Pierre Moscovici one day in September 2012. While in the region, the Minister of the Economy stopped off in Lavérune to salute the success of a regional flagship, ESII, during a visit and a handshake with its founder. An alumnus of ISIM (formerly Polytech), Joseph Zirah has been at the helm of this SME specializing in hospitality management since the early 80s. His business: designing high-tech hospitality management solutions for public institutions and the retail world, such as the intelligent single checkout line or the connected card for high-end boutiques. He is proud of the fact that his company has become one of the world leaders in its sector, thanks to tools such as the "patient pathway", a device designed to optimize the follow-up of patient files, which has been adopted by some of Paris's biggest hospitals. The story could have ended there. But that was without counting on the inventiveness of this engineer, who worked for Alcatel Paris before embarking on his entrepreneurial adventure. At an age when some people are thinking of retiring, Joseph Zirah has launched a new branch of activity with Twavox, which he describes as "a software program providing access to culture for the disabled" .

Carbon paper

It has to be said that the subject is very close to his heart. Stricken with progressive deafness since the age of two, Joseph Zirah has spent his entire life confronting a world that was not made for him. Back in college, when accessibility was still a vague notion, he had to rely on the carbon copies of one of his classmates. And work hard. His scribe at the time, Jean-Pierre Richard, has since become a friend and partner at ESII. Twavox was born of an observation: "Every time I went to the cinema, I had trouble perceiving all the dialogue. Of course, there are magnetic loop systems to compensate for this, but they are more or less effective depending on where you are in the theater, and disturbances are very frequent," he recounts. One evening, his irritation got the better of him, and Joseph Zirah set about finding a mobile application on the Internet.


" I told myself that in today's connected age, there had to be a solution. But then I realized that there wasn't one...". A stranger to the world of cinema, but smelling the opportunity opened up by the new generation of cell phones, he decided to commit his R&D department to a new challenge. The success was as great as the daring. Launched in 2014, his patented device and application immediately won over groups like Gaumont and Pathé. The principle is disarmingly simple: use the wifi band to retransmit sound to a simple smartphone and a pair of headphones, thus avoiding any interference. Two other functions complete the package: audio description and subtitles. " And we can go much further," enthuses Joseph Zirah, who is now targeting the conference and education markets. In April, the President of ESII was back at Polytech to witness the installation of the Twavox box in an amphitheater. What a symbol: 40 years on, Joseph Zirah has taken his revenge on carbon paper.