Apple Buys UK Startup VocalIQ To Make Siri Smarter

Reported purchase of VocalIQ could also be tied to using Siri as part of CarPlay

Apple has reportedly purchased Cambridge-based VocalIQ, a UK start-up specialising in human-machine communication, whose technology could be used to improve Siri, wearables and even CarPlay.

Apple appeared to confirm the deal with a statement saying “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the Financial Times reported.

TechWeekEurope has contacted Apple for further information but had not received a response at the time of publication.


vocaliqThe acquisition could see Siri being able to use contextual details to provide better information and answers to a user’s questions, such as which restaurants are best for a certain occasion, or which shops are the most convenient to access.

The deal, which also apparently sees Apple set up an R&D office space for VocalIQ’s staff in Cambridge, has been estimated at somewhere between $50m (£33m) and $100m (£65m), although this has yet to be confirmed by either party.

“Since 2011, we’ve been working on the development of a smart platform that learns your natural conversation flow – and uses it to control your devices,” VocalIQ’s website says. “Our aim is to augment and impact our experiences with machine interaction – changing every aspect of everyday lives.”

The company, which was set up in 2011, grew out of more than a decade of academic research at the Spoken Dialogue Systems Group at University of Cambridge, UK and are driven by a team of world-class engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs.

First launched on Apple’s devices back in 2011, Siri has rapidly become increasingly integral to the iPhone and iPad, as well as recently moving into the Apple Watch and the company’s in-car operating system, CarPlay.

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