Apple Acquires UK-based Speech Technology Startup VocalIQ

The iOS, iPhone and Mac maker Apple Inc., according to the Financial Times has purchased VocalIQ, an artificial-intelligence startup that could help make its smartphone users’ interactions with the virtual assistant Siri more accurately and naturally. VocalIQ is actually located in the United Kingdom that has developed an un-refined language API to allow computers and people to have a more unique dialogue.

Those of you who aren’t aware of VocalIQ, is the company that has developed a self-learning dialogue API built on 10 years of natural language research, belief tracking, decision making, and of course message generation.


It’s not clear as now on how Apple’s acquisition of VocalIQ is going to be and how the Cupertino-based company is going to use its technology. But it’s likely Apple will use the API to improve its voice-based personal assistant, Siri. The cource who claims this also believes Apple could sue the tech for its upcoming car project, as VocalIQ specialized in in-car applications among other things.

While VocalIQ’s speech processing and machine learning technology could be incorporated into devices from wearables to the connected home, the company was particularly focused on in-car applications. This included a collaboration with General Motors.

In a blog earlier this year, VocalIQ described how a “conversational voice-dialog system” in a car’s navigation system could prevent drivers from becoming distracted by looking at screens. Its “self- learning” technology allows “real conversation between human and the internet of things”, VocalIQ wrote.

Apple bought VocalIQ Ltd., a UK-based software maker is said to be also working on ways to improve computers’ ability to understand human speech and to “speak” more genuinely. Terms of the deal eren’t disclosed. VocalIQ says on its website that its software helps computers speak more naturally by learning from each interaction with a human, employing an artificial-intelligence technique called deep learning, and the software also seeks to help PCs better understand commands and their context.

The iPad maker increasingly hopes to use VocalIQ’s voice commands to control everything from the automobiles to robots to Internet-connected devices in homes. While voice-recognition technology is however improving, engineers say computers have a long way to go to consistently understand huamans’ intentions and replyt in natural ways.

Ironically,  VocalIQ has criticized Siri as a mere “toy” and that all the existing voice assistants in the market have been well below the consumer expectations and unable to understand context. What’s the exact difference between VocalIQ’s system and traditional speech-recognition servuces like Siri and Cortana is its ability to learn.


In a blog post, VocalIQ speaks,

The reason for this state of affairs is that while Apple, Google and the some others have mastered how the use machine learning for speech-recognition, they are still stuck with medieval approach when it comes of conversational voice dialog. They are still using pre-programmed flow-chart based response that don’t learn.

The consumer demand for a self-learning multi-domain conversational voice system where consumers can freely talk about movies, restaurants, music, hotel bookings and the meaning of life, is huge and undeniable. The first one to meet that demand will rule the smartphone and wearables market for the next decade.

Apple confirmed its purchase of VocalIQ with its usual statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Later we have to witness on how its going to be.

(Via: Financial Times)