Apple Acquires British Speech Recognition Firm Novauris

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Apple could boost Siri ahead of CarPlay launch with Novauris acquisition

Apple has reportedly acquired British speech recognition specialist Novauris Technologies in a move that could boost the iPhone manufacturer’s voice-activated digital personal assistant, Siri.

It is not clear how much Apple paid for Cheltenham-based Novauris, and the only comment the Cupertino-based company has made about the purchase is that it acquires smaller technology firms from “time to time” and does not generally comment about its purpose or plans.

Novauris says its technology works by identifying whole phrases said by the user, rather than words or sequences of words, allowing it to cope with questions of virtually any length and return answers from a potentially huge database.

Apple Novauris deal

Siri-on-iPhone squareThis can include up to 100,000 items of unstructured data or 245 million items of structured data. The company says tests with a database of 245 million US addresses were 99 percent accuracy, while it used just 100MB of memory, making it suitable for in-car use.

Apple might well have been attracted by Novauris’ technology because of this combination of low memory requirements and the ability to recognise more informal statements for it’s new in-vehicle entertainment platform. Apple is partnering with many of the world’s leading car manufacturers for CarPlay, which should allow drivers to safely use applications such as iTunes and Siri.

Last week, Microsoft revealed details of its own Siri rival, Cortana, which will be available to Windows Phone users later this year. It is claimed that the voice-activated personal assistant will allow the mobile platform to offer the “world’s most personal smartphone” by learning about the user in order to return useful information.

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