Apple Buys Voice-Focused AI Startup

Apple has acquired a UK-based startup that could help it to further enlighten Siri, the virtual assistant built into Apple’s mobile devices. Called VocalIQ, the startup specializes in artificial intelligence, and more specifically in areas related to voice-based interaction.

Neither company has disclosed concrete details about the deal – not the monetary terms, nor future plans related to the acquisition. But the speculation over Siri seems fair given Apple’s recent efforts in that area: The company’s newest flagship iPhones feature not only the most accurate speech recognition in the AI software to date, but also novel voice recognition capabilities.

Of course, VocalIQ’s technology could have applications in any number of areas. In the growing Internet of Things, voice interaction may provide an important user interface for a number of everyday devices and appliances that have hitherto been offline, and there has been some speculation in the past that Apple is keen to give its devices a central role in the IoT-infused smart home.

At the very least, the acquisition may simply reflect Apple’s desire to keep up with the competition in terms of the technological sophistication of its IT portfolio; Google recently announced what could be a major breakthrough in its own speech recognition technology, and Apple will be eager to not fall behind.

Source: Wall Street Journal