Facebook has purchased a voice recognition startup and may add it to its arsenal of technologies gathering data on its users. The acquisition, reported last month in a Wall Street Journal article by Reed Albergotti, saw the social network giant buy Wit.ai for an undisclosed amount.
The most obvious uses of Wit.ai’s technology would be for the purposes of allowing Facebook users to speak commands or to dictate messages for conversion into text. But Albergotti also speculates that Facebook might look at ways for the technology to glean valuable data on users from their speech messages. This seems especially probable, he suggests, given that Facebook already has the capability to recognize television shows and music; perhaps Wit.ai’s technology could detect ambient speech while users are logged on.
One of the co-founders of Wit.ai, Alex Lebrun, also headed VirtuOz, which was later bought out by Nuance Communications. That company is responsible for the Dragon voice recognition technology, which is set to appear in some smart cars in the near future. While voice recognition technology has been most popular in the financial services sector, it seems to be branching out as the technology advances and the Internet of Things expands. A social networking platform like Facebook would seem to have a strong interest in acquiring such technology is it seeks to integrate itself in the myriad applications associated with the IoT.
February 4, 2015 – by Alex Perala