Apple Buys VocalIQ To Supercharge Siri - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Applications
12:05 PM
Connect Directly
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

Apple Buys VocalIQ To Supercharge Siri

The purchase could give Apple the software it needs to take Siri, and potentially its automotive project, to the next level.

10 iPhone Healthcare, Fitness Apps That Actually Work
10 iPhone Healthcare, Fitness Apps That Actually Work
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple has reportedly bought UK startup VocalIQ, according to a new report from the Financial Times.

VocalIQ builds speech-processing technology. Its software is designed to facilitate more natural communication between humans and computers, as explained by sources close to the deal.

In a blog post from the company, VocalIQ explains how the challenge of the Internet of Things is in combining human and artificial intelligence to create a continuous stream of new knowledge. It believes we need more than automated speech recognition (ASR) to improve the conversation between people and machines.

[ Apple's Tim Cook values Microsoft partnership ]

"What we need is framework for a real dialog, a conversation," wrote officials, "where it's not just us humans doing the talking, but the machines [things] talk to us if and when they have something important to say. And they will. Lots. What we need is Machine Initiated Dialog."

With the power of machine learning, VocalIQ is attempting to create the type of virtual assistant we have only seen in movies like Her. Such a tool could enhance Apple's Siri or become part of Apple's automobile project.

Modern navigation systems have the ability to display real-time traffic data inside the vehicle, VocalIQ explains, but drivers are restricted in navigating them. A vocal dialog system could help by enabling the driver to chat with a machine and receive directions while paying attention to the road.

VocalIQ recognizes the growing competition for the voice user experience (UX) among today's tech giants. Siri is already in direct competition with Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Now for the top virtual assistant.

Despite the billions of dollars being invested in these services, the startup claims all of them "fell well short of consumer expectations" and dismisses Siri as a "toy."

(Image: Apple)

(Image: Apple)

Most modern digital assistants can better understand human vocabulary, the blog post continues, but have little understanding of the context of those words. Companies such as Apple and Google are stuck in a "medieval" approach to conversation because they continue to use "pre-programmed, flow-chart based response that don't learn."

VocalIQ claims the most successful assistant will be a self-learning multi-domain system that can hold a conversation with people about hotel bookings, movies, restaurants, and music. Perhaps it will help Apple create such an assistant in Siri.

In a statement confirming the deal to the Financial Times, Apple officials gave their usual response: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Li Tan
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
10/4/2015 | 3:41:58 PM
Not only voice recognition
Siri is not only about voice recognition but it opens the channel for machine to human being communication. I just got my new Audi Q5 and it supports voice recognition, too. Although the command set is still pretty simple, I already found it quite useful for convenience and simplicity.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll