Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Facebook Acquires Wit.ai To Help Its Developers With Speech Recognition And Voice Interfaces

Facebook’s latest known acquisition involves a startup specializing in voice recognition technology.

The firm, Wit.ai, began life just 18 months ago, and exists as “an open, distributed, community-based platform that makes it easy for developers to build apps that users can talk to,” according to the Palo Alto-based team that runs the operation.

Wit.ai has gathered around 6,000 developers in its short life, building a collection of voice recognition-related apps that currently numbers in the hundreds.

The terms of the deal aren’t currently known, nor is the specific reason why Facebook decided to acquire the startup, though obviously the social networking giant is looking to make use of its technology somewhere down the line, possibly involving its existing products – among them its Facebook app, Messenger and WhatsApp – or in other ventures beyond its core business.

Last year Facebook splashed out $2 billion on Oculus VR, maker of the much-discussed Oculus Rift virtual reality headset that could, at some point, be hooked up with Wit.ai’s technology.

The startup is clearly thrilled at this week’s development, describing it on its website as “an incredible acceleration in the execution of our vision.”

It continued, “Facebook has the resources and talent to help us take the next step. Facebook’s mission is to connect everyone and build amazing experiences for the over 1.3 billion people on the platform – technology that understands natural language is a big part of that, and we think we can help,” the startup said.

Facebook also confirmed the deal, saying in a release, “Wit.ai has built an incredible yet simple natural language processing API that has helped developers turn speech and text into actionable data. We’re excited to have them on board.”

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