Apple Acquired Speech Recognition Firm Novauris Last Year for Siri Team

Apple purchased automatic speech recognition company Novauris Technologies last year, reports TechCrunch. Novauris' main product was NovaSystem, a server-based distributed speech recognition system.

According to the company's website, its technology is able to handle multiple simultaneous voice requests, recognizing complete phrases and analyzing syllable structure for better speech recognition.

novauris

NovaSearch doesn’t carry out recognition at the word or sequence-of-words level, but rather identifies complete phrases from start to finish by matching them against a potentially huge inventory of possible utterances. This enables it to assemble information about what has been spoken over utterances of virtually any length and take near-optimal decisions.

While the Novauris website does not mention its acquisition by Apple, TechCrunch notes that a phone call to the U.K. offices was answered with "Apple," by Novauris's co-founder, who confirmed that the team now works for Apple. Novauris's founders are well-known speech researchers and formerly worked at Dragon Systems, the company behind products like Dragon NaturallySpeaking and DragonDictate, now owned by Nuance.

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.

Novauris's technology has been used by companies like Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Samsung, Alpine, BMW, and more. It has also been used to power several different voice-activated mapping systems, as seen in the demo video below.


The acquisition took place in 2013 and the Novauris team has been working on improving Siri, Apple's voice-based digital assistant. Apple is rumored to be working on making some significant upgrades to Siri with iOS 8, possibly expanding its ability to interface with third-party apps.

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Top Rated Comments

itpromike Avatar
133 months ago
There is absolutely no way Google Now can predict that I want to schedule a meeting with "my lawyer" at 3:00. And then Siri goes even further by checking my calendar and managing it based on what I already have scheduled.

I could give you a ton of examples but basically Google Now is poor at understand context when you ask it to do something which makes it a poor digital assistant.

There are simply tons of things Siri does that Google Now simply isn't smart enough to do. Google Now is a glorified email reader not a virtual personal assistant like Siri and Cortana. Until it can process multiple step actions based on conversational input and understand the context of that input on the level of Siri and Cortana, Google Now will continue to lag in 3rd place.

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Sorry to break the news to you but Siri already does all that and did it long before Google Now. And to make it worse, that's just the simplest of tasks because it's only one step and does not require any complex context. You can only give simple examples with Google Now because it can only do simple one step stuff.

Sorry to break it to you bud but you are actually the one that is incorrect. Siri does not do all that. I have both a 5S and an N5. Key differences:

1.) Siri processes requests absurdly slower since it is tied to network connectivity for processing requests. - Winner Google Now
2.) Siri handle chained context better. For example "any messages from my mom?" "What about my dad?". - Winner Siri
3.) Siri doesn't give you information ahead of time.

Example 1: When a package ships and I'm sent a notification email, if I invoke Google Now it listed as one of the cards that appears with all the packages that I am tracking or expecting; 1 card per package so I can track them all. It keeps those cards as a part of the daily updates so I can continue to track until the package arrives and then it automatically no longer shows up in my daily cards. Siri does NOT do all that.

Example 2: When my flight is delayed or has an update, or even when I've confirmed my flight online it automatically appears as a daily card within Google now so you can track it and it updates real time. No 3rd party app to download and/or configure push notifications within that app. It's all apart of your updates you get from Google now. Siri does NOT do all that

In this regard - Winner Google Now


It's difficult to call since Google Now and Siri don't actually do and weren't actually meant to do the same thing. Google now is more meant to give you information when you need or before you need it which it does way better than Siri however Siri wasn't designed for that. Siri was designed to give you information when you ask for it. It goes back to the old widget argument actually which gives you a glimpse of how Google and Apple think differently than each other. Apple doesn't give you widgets and want you to be intentional about going and getting the information you need. Google gives you widgets and the idea is that the information is there for you to do view as you're doing other things and you don't have to take the time to go and get it. Siri gives you information but you have to be intentional. Google Now has information it thinks you need based on context when it determines you need it with the goal of giving it to you before you have to go looking for it. Which one is better depends entirely on your own individual work flow.

But hey, all that objective information might be too hard to swallow and accept for some of the super loyal to a fault crowd. Not everything Apple does is the best or only way to do something. Likewise not everything Google does is second fiddle because Apple didn't do it.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newagemac Avatar
133 months ago
One of the funniest things I've noticed since Cortana was released by Microsoft was how Google Now users were gushing at some of the conversational actions that Siri already currently does but Google Now can't do. They basically didn't even know what Siri was capable of. Google Now is actually pretty dumb compared to some of the things Siri and Cortana do.

Nice to see Apple working on maintaining its lead with Siri because unlike Google Now, Cortana is a serious competitor.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spyguy10709 Avatar
133 months ago
As it stands, siri in iOS 7 is really, really good. The detection is about 5,000 times better (scientifically) than back in iOS 5. It works reliably, something that sVoice can't get yet, and it is really good about reading back your responses, something Google Now doesn't really do very often. I think with this acquisition, Siri will really be polished and amazing. Needless to say - I can't wait.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
133 months ago
Hope this means major changes in iOS 8!!

And it's no coincidence this news "leaked" a day after Cortana was announced.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BornAgainMac Avatar
133 months ago
Siri told me this just now:
I'm really sorry about this, but I can't take any requests right now. Please try again in a little while.

I believe my network signal is weak right now but I wish that Siri can determine that it was a network issue and just say that rather than me thinking the server is too busy or that Siri doesn't work.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sualpine Avatar
133 months ago
Google Now is definitely the one in 3rd place. It can't do half the things Siri and Cortana can.

If you mean giving you witty non-answer answers, sure. If you mean by predicting what you need before you ask for it, (which is what the applicability of AI in this field is), then you are most assuredly incorrect.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)