Home Business Apple buys UK-based VocalIQ to make Siri more intelligent and relevant

Apple buys UK-based VocalIQ to make Siri more intelligent and relevant

Apple’s latest acquisition is an Artificial Intelligence speech expert company based in Cambridge called VocalIQ. The deal is most likely an attempt by the Cupertino giant to bolster its Siri Voice recognition engine.

According to VocalIQ, its technology can be used to further improve the accuracy of Siri’s voice recognition technology as it learns more with usage, but can also understand the various subtleties involved in a conversation.

“Traditional spoken dialogue interfaces are handcrafted, fragile and frustrating. It is unrealistic to expect seven billion people to start talking to machines in a way mandated by a programmer. Dialogue systems need to learn how people speak, and not the other way round,” says VocalIQ’s website.

The Cambridge-based company also says that they have been involved in more than 10 years of academic research in “natural language, belief tracking, decision making and message generation”. It further adds that re-defining the way people communicate with their devices has wide usage across different market verticals and has the potential to revolutionize the way humans interact with machines.

“There are no commands for the user to learn. It’s about having a conversation,” said Blaise Thomson, CEO and co-founder of VocalIQ.

Apple has been putting quite a lot of effort into Siri so that it gets better at understanding the needs of its owners. For instance, the newly released iOS 9 allows Siri to suggest apps that its considers users might be looking for. The same technology can even come to its CarPlay in-car infotainment technology. The company has recently been hiring machine learning and AI experts to help Siri able to predict what its users are saying and what might they be looking for. The iPhone maker has been aggressively involved in hiring experts including those from other tech giants that include the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook, along with the latest VoiceIQ acquisition.

To recall, it was reported last year that Apple had set up an R&D facility at Hill’s Road in the UK’s science & technology hub. And now an anonymous source has confirmed to Business Weekly that the Hills Road building appears to be ‘half occupied’ and the ‘top two stories have been frosted so that no one can see in or out.’ The report further adds that no numbers about the deal have been confirmed yet.