Apple purchased speech recognition firm Novauris last year to bolster Siri team


Just a day after Microsoft unveiled its digital assistant ‘Cortana’ to rave reviews, news has surfaced that Apple has been making moves to bring its own assistant up to speed. TechCrunch is reporting this morning that the Cupertino company has purchased speech recognition firm Novauris, and the group is now working on the Siri team.

Novauris is highly-regarded in the world of speech recognition. Founded in March 2002 by well-known speech researchers and ex Dragon Systems engineers, the firm’s technology is used in a variety of products by companies like Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Alpine and BMW, and can be operated in both the embedded and server space…

Here’s more on Novauris from TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez:

Novauris may not have been a household name, but its founders were internationally known speech researchers, and key members while at Dragon Systems, a company known for products like “DragonDictate” and “Dragon NaturallySpeaking.”

Novauris had been developing its own large-vocabulary, automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology for access to information stored locally on mobile devices or remotely on servers, which they patented in the U.S. and abroad, and licensed to major corporations worldwide.

One of the biggest differentiators about Novauris in terms of the competitive landscape, is that they operated in both the embedded and server space, and they also owned the core engine. This of course would make them a valuable asset for Apple, which had tried to acquire Nuance, the technology that powers Apple’s Siri – a partnership that has long been known, but only officially confirmed last year. 

And here’s a video showing off the company’s technology:

Apparently the acquisition happened sometime last year, but was never publicly known until today. The Novauris website doesn’t make any note of the buyout, but Apple has provided its typical boilerplate confirmation of: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple first introduced Siri in 2011 as a headlining feature for its iPhone 4s. Initial feedback for the snarky assistant was very positive, but many believe that it has since fallen behind competitive products from Google, and now Microsoft. According to a report last fall, Apple is making major improvements to Siri for the upcoming iOS 8 update.