Apple buys speech-recognition start-up VocalIQ

Acquisition expected to bolster Cupertino's efforts with Siri digital assistant

Tags: Apple IncorporatedMergers and acquisitions
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Apple buys speech-recognition start-up VocalIQ It is generally believed that VocalIQ's technology will be integrated into Siri, allowing users to speak more naturally into their iDevices
By  Tom Paye Published  October 4, 2015

Apple has acquired a UK-based speech recognition software company that could help make Siri more reliable in day-to-day use, it was announced over the weekend.

VocalIQ is a purveyor of artificial intelligence software, though its strength lies in products that can receive vocal inputs from "natural" human speech, rather than the stilted speech required for most voice recognition products.

Apple confirmed the acquisition to various media on Friday, with its standard response on acquisitions.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," Apple told the Wall Street Journal.

However, it is generally believed that VocalIQ's technology will be integrated into Siri, allowing users to speak more naturally into their iDevices to get responses from the digital assistant. While Siri is generally viewed as ahead of the pack in terms of the raft of digital assistants that have been put out by technology vendors, it still struggles to understand or make sense of plenty of speech.

Indeed, back in March, the VocalIQ company blog wrote a scathing summary of the state of voice-activated digital assistants currently available to consumers.

"All major technology companies are pouring billions into building up of services like Siri, Google Now, Cortana and Alexa. Each was launched with a huge bang, promising great things but fell well short of consumer expectations. Some ended being used only as toys, like Siri. The rest, forgotten. Unsurprisingly," a March post read.

No doubt Apple will be hoping that VocalIQ's technology can change this for Siri.

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