Apple purchased automatic speech recognition company Novauris Technologies last year, reports TechCrunch. Novauris’ main product was NovaSystem, a server-based distributed speech recognition system.
According to the company’s website, its technology is able to handle multiple simultaneous voice requests, recognizing complete phrases and analyzing syllable structure for better speech recognition.
NovaSearch doesn’t carry out recognition at the word or sequence-of-words level, but rather identifies complete phrases from start to finish by matching them against a potentially huge inventory of possible utterances. This enables it to assemble information about what has been spoken over utterances of virtually any length and take near-optimal decisions.
While the Novauris website does not mention its acquisition by Apple, TechCrunch notes that a phone call to the U.K. offices was answered with “Apple,” by Novauris’s co-founder, who confirmed that the team now works for Apple. Novauris’s founders are well-known speech researchers and formerly worked at Dragon Systems, the company behind products like Dragon NaturallySpeaking and DragonDictate, now owned by Nuance.
One of the biggest differentiators about Novauris in terms of the competitive landscape, is that they operated in both the embedded and server space, and they also owned the core engine. This of course would make them a valuable asset for Apple, which had tried to acquire Nuance, the technology that powers Apple’s Siri – a partnership that has long been known, but only officially confirmed last year.
Novauris’s technology has been used by companies like Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Samsung, Alpine, BMW, and more. It has also been used to power several different voice-activated mapping systems, as seen in the demo video below.
The acquisition took place in 2013 and the Novauris team has been working on improving Siri, Apple’s voice-based digital assistant. Apple is rumored to be working on making some significant upgrades to Siri with iOS 8, possibly expanding its ability to interface with third-party apps.
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