Apple

Apple Buys AI Voice Assistant Startup To Make Siri Smarter

apple, siri, voysis, acquisitions, artificial intelligence, digital assistant, siri

Siri is getting an assistant by way of the artificial intelligence startup Voysis, which Apple acquired to improve natural language technology, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday (April 3). 

Headquartered in Dublin, Voysis has been concentrating its efforts on enhancing digital assistants that are integrated with shopping apps. The goal is to improve the software so it responds more accurately to voice commands.

An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Voysis was founded in 2012 by Peter Cahill and Noel Ruane and has had two funding rounds totaling $8 million. Before co-founding the company, Cahill spent 15 years studying speech technology and neural networks. The startup created a voice recognition platform powered by natural language and search capabilities. Aside from headquarters in Dublin, the startup also had offices in Edinburgh and Boston. 

The Voysis platform utilizes WaveNets, which have voice and speech patterns closer to a human. WaveNets were created four years ago by Google’s DeepMind. Cahill said in 2018 that his company “managed to shrink its system to the point where, once the AI is trained, the software uses as little as 25 megabytes of memory — about the same size as four Apple Music songs. That made it much easier to run on smartphones without an internet connection.”

Apple has been gobbling up AI startups like Turi, Xnor.ai, and Laserlike. The acquisition of Voysis is the second deal Apple closed in the same week. The company also bought the weather app Dark Sky.

Rumors that Apple is buying Walt Disney have persisted since Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar. That made late Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs into Disney’s largest shareholder. Jobs was also co-founder of Apple, and at the time was in his second tour of duty as its CEO.

 

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