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Facebook acquires voice recognition start-up

On Monday, Facebook revealed it has acquired 18-month-old voice recognition technology developer, Wit.ai, with the social network declining to reveal how much it paid for the start up.

Wit.ai, based in Palo Alto, California, develops a platform which is able to recognise and understand the spoken word for use in wearable technologies and online devices.

Facebook could use Wit.ai to improve user experience by building voice control into its messenger app and by allowing users to navigate with their voice.

In a blog post, Wit.ai said the move benefits them as “Facebook has the resources and talent to help us take the next step”, and that they will work with the social network to help build “amazing experiences” for its 1.3 billion users.

Wit.ai differs from similar companies as the product allows developers to quickly build speech recognition into an application with just a few lines of code.

The platform is already being used by thousands of developers and can break down voice commands and learn more about the human language from every interaction, with information then shared across its developers.

Facebook looking beyond traditional platforms

The move was announced at the start of the International Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It follows last year’s £2 billion acquisition of virtual reality headset developer, Oculus VR.

Despite Facebook declining to provide details on their plans to use the technology, it is further indication of its ambition of reaching users beyond desktops, smartphones and tablets.

The utilisation of voice recognition technology could assist in ensuring wearable technology grows in mainstream popularity, especially as many devices lack touch navigation capacity.

Increase advert targeting

Apple, Microsoft and Google have long incorporated voice recognition technology into their own platforms and have been working towards creating better user experiences across all devices.

The purchase could not only help Facebook catch up in this respect, it may also help them target users with relevant ads by tracking what people are saying using the voice recognition technology.

Written by Andy Williams

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