Google has invested in a China-based company specializing in speech recognition and smartwatches. Called Mobvoi, the company was founded three years ago by Li Zhifei, a former Google Research Scientist.
While Mobvoi has developed and launched its own smartwatch called Ticwear, that device has only sold 30,000 units since its debut in June, so it seems more likely that Google’s interest in the company stems from its speech recognition technology; its mobile voice search app has attracted two million users. And Google has recently demonstrated its own interest in speech recognition, having announced a significant development in its R&D earlier this autumn. Meanwhile, rival Apple has also been working to enhance the capabilities of its Siri virtual assistant, and bought a voice-focused AI startup a couple of weeks ago.
Voice command and speech recognition are already prominent features of newer mobile devices, and look to play an even bigger role going forward in these and other devices in the Internet of Things, so this appears to be a savvy investment on Google’s part. Neither the company nor Mobvoi have disclosed the value of the investment, but The Wall Street Journal estimates it to be somewhere in the $40 to $45 million range.
Source: The Wall Street Journal