Apple quietly acquired an automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology company called Novauris Technologies, which grew out of Dragon Systems R&D UK Ltd., the British research subsidiary of Dragon Systems, a well-known voice dictation pioneer, TechCrunch reports.
The acquisition apparently took place last year, but had not been announced, according to TechCrunch. The team is now working on improving Siri, the speech-based virtual assistant technology that comes pre-installed on Apple’s mobile devices.
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.
Novauris’s products already supported iOS and iPhone via its Embedded ASR (NovaSearch Compact) and Server ASR (NovaSearch Server) technologies, the former for spoken access to on-device info for ARM-based mobile phones, and the latter a network-based ASR technology for mobile and telephony services.
According to a Novauris fact sheet, its customers included OEMs and carrier partners such as Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Samsung, SingTel, Alpine, BMW and others. Verizon, for example, used Novauris for its mobile “Get It Now Search” service for BREW devices back in 2006.
The company’s voice recognition products supported a wide range of languages, including U.S., UK and Singapore English, German, Canadian French, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese and others.
Its applications and services are capable of searching on-device content like contacts, apps, FAQs, music, and translation, plus could assist with navigation or search for content in a device’s App Store, and more, TechCrunch says.