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Apple Acquires Speech Recognition Firm Novauris for Offline Siri Powers

by Brandon Russell | April 4, 2014April 4, 2014 12:00 pm PST


Apple this week vaguely confirmed it acquired Novauris Technologies, an offshoot of Dragon Systems, which is best known for voice-dictation software; the deal was apparently finalized sometime last year, but has only just been brought to light. The purchase means the team at Novauris is at work on improving Apple’s Siri, possibly using its research and patents to bring the voice assistant offline. Novauris had apparently been developing an automatic speech recognition system that could be stored locally (or on remote servers), TechCrunch noted.

If Apple can bring some basic Siri functionality to iPhone users without an Internet connection, the assistant might actually become… useful. Right now Siri is limited by a mandatory Web connection, which essentially ruled the technology moot when no data connection is available. And, conversely, if Novauris can bring its core technology into Siri, the technology’s speech recognition capabilities could be ramped up considerably. Novauris has plenty of speech recognition experience, offering up its technology to Panasonic, Verizon Wireless, Samsung and more.

Apple didn’t outright confirm it purchased Novauris, but the Cupertino company did give its rehearsed response: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” If Apple did indeed acquire Novauris last year, one would assume we’ll see some improvements once iOS 8 rolls around. The question is: what new tricks will Siri possess in iOS 8? Will the assistant tie into the healthbook initiative we’ve been hearing about? What about an always-listening mode?

Apple has been banking on bringing Siri into consumer cars, so perhaps we’ll also see some improvements in that regard. Not every road is slathered in an Internet connection, so being able to use Siri offline would certainly be quite useful.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.