Apple Acquires VocalIQ – A Natural-Language Research firm for Autos, Other Devices

Posted by at 11:47 am on October 5, 2015

VocalIQA report from London’s Financial Times indicates that Apple has bought a natural-language development startup called VocalIQ that has developed applications for in-car apps, wearables, “smarthome” devices, and other applications where a voice interface works well. The company has been working on a natural-language API for automated self-learning that would allow users to interact even more naturally with voice-powered assistive services and devices. The company had previously criticized voice systems like Siri and Cortana for their inability to learn as they interacted with users.

The UK-based startup’s technology will very likely be incorporated into Siri, which is being used to control a wider range of devices — ranging now from the iPhone and iPad to the Apple Watch and new Apple TV. The technology will take on a bigger role through the iPhone and Apple TV in controlling future “connected home” devices using Apple’s HomeKit technology or third-party apps, as well as any future wearable devices developed by Apple or others. Apple has also been known to be working on some kind of additional car technology, possibly helping to design an entire car (along with a presumed manufacturing partner).

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General Motors was among the clients who were working with VocalIQ to improve in-car voice assistance technology. The company promises that its self-learning technology allows for “real conversation between humans and the Internet of Things.” While Apple has not directly confirmed the purchase, it responded to questions about the acquisition with its usual response: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

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