Monday, April 7, 2014

Apple Acquires UK Based Novauris Technologies

With further improvements in the technology behind Siri, Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch, that it has purchased UK based Novauris Technologies, automatic speech recognition (ASR) Technology Company. This company grew out of Dragon System R&D U.K. Ltd; is the British research subsidiary of Dragon Systems and a well known voice dictation pioneer.

The company founded in 2002, is managed by CEO, Yoon Kim, Co-founders, Melvyn Hunt and John Bridle with background work at Dragon, Nortel, SRI, Marconi and Aurix. Apple along with its confirmation to TechCrunch had remarked that `they buy smaller technology companies from time to time and that they generally do not discuss their purpose or plans’.

Financial terms of the deal had not been disclosed.Novauris began operation in March 2002 after reassembling most of the former U.K. R&D team of Dragon Systems. While founder Jim Baker funded the initial development work and originally owned the company, it was Bridle and Hunt who bought him out along with some help from other private investors in September 2004.

Thereafter they brought in Kim who headed TTS Company, NeoSpeech as CEO. Though the acquisition had taken place last year, the same had not been reported. The team, now at Apple is working on improving Siri, the speech based virtual assistant technology which come pre-installed on Apple’s mobile devices. Apple it is also rumored to be working on some significant changes to Siri with iOS 8, and probably expanding its ability to interface with third party apps.

Huge Vocabulary Automatic Speech Recognition Technology

Novauris’ technology had been used by companies such as Panasonic, Verizon Wireless, Samsung, Alpine, BMW and others and also powered much different voice in activated mapping systems. Novauris may not have been a popular name but the founders were internationally recognized speech researchers and key members at Dragon Systems, a company which was known for products like `DragonDictate’ and `Dragon NaturallySpeaking.’.

Moreover the company had been developing its own huge vocabulary, automatic speech recognition technology for access to information, locally stored on mobile devices or remote servers which had been patented in the US as well as abroad and licensed to major corporations all across the world.

Embedded as well as Server Space

The biggest difference about Novauris with regards to the competitive landscape was that they operated in the embedded as well as the server space and also owned the core engine. This has made them a very valuable asset to Apple, that they had made efforts to acquire Nuance, the technology which powered Apple’s Siri and a partnership which was not disclosed but officially confirmed only last year. Nuance Company who merged with ScanSoft in 2005 had acquired the rights to the Dragon product and offered further connection between these companies.

Novauris’ products have been supporting iOS and iPhone through its Embedded ASR – NovaSearch Compact and Server ASR – NovaSearch Server technologies. Moreover, the company’s voice recognition products also support a wide range of languages namely U.S., U.K. German, Canadian French, Singapore English, French, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese etc; and its applications and services have the capabilities of searching on device content such as apps, contacts, FAQs, translation, music as well as assistance with navigation or search contents on device’s App store.

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