Facebook acquires speech-recognition startup Wit.ai

Is a verbal "Like" feature on the way?

Wit.ai's technology lets people talk to robots, apps, and, maybe soon, Facebook.
Wit.ai's technology lets people talk to robots, apps, and, maybe soon, Facebook.

Facebook is acquiring Wit.ai, a speech-recognition startup whose technology could give the social network new ways to let users connect verbally.

Wit.ai, less than two years old, has a platform that lets outside developers incorporate speech recognition into apps, home devices such as thermostats, and even robots. More than 6,000 developers have used its technology to build apps and devices that people can talk to, the Palo Alto, California-based company says.

It's unclear how exactly its technology will be incorporated into Facebook, though it's likely to help Facebook compete against Apple's Siri and Google voice search. "Wit.ai has built an incredible yet simple natural language processing API that has helped developers turn speech and text into actionable data. We're excited to have them onboard," Facebook said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In addition to its technology, Wit.ai's core team will be joining Facebook at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. However, the technology won't become exclusive to Facebook. The platform will remain open and become entirely free for outside developers, Wit.ai said in a blog post.

But the application of Wit.ai's technology to Facebook could make for some interesting new products or features. Take search, for example: Facebook has been ramping up its efforts there, having recently added the ability to let users search for old posts. Some form of speech recognition could be incorporated there.

Facebook's interest in search goes beyond posts. Two years ago, the company announced its development of Graph Search, an effort to let users search with natural-language queries such as, "New York sushi restaurants my friends like." Wit.ai may help speed up Facebook's development of graph search, or even let users phrase their queries in a more natural way.

Messaging is another area that could benefit from Wit.ai technology. Speech-to-text conversion could be incorporated into Facebook's Messenger app. Facebook-owned WhatsApp is also said to be planning a voice calling feature, so there could be some tie-ins there.

In other words, there are many possibilities. Maybe in the future, instead of tapping "Like" when we see entries on Facebook, we'll walk around saying it to our smartphones.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Un-complicating multi-channel marketing: 5 actionable steps

There’s so much choice available that customers can pick and choose who they buy from and where, when, and how it happens. They want to discover, research, evaluate, and purchase on their preferred channel. Give them that option, and they’re more likely to choose you. That’s the whole point behind the multi-channel approach.

Aaron Agius

Co-founder and managing director, Louder Online

People in vegan houses shouldn't throw bacon

Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?

Abbie Love

Strategist, Ikon Communications

The role of the CMO is evolving: Are you keeping up?

My (amazing) vacation in the Galapagos Islands earlier in the year got me thinking about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. What does this have to do with the role of today’s CMO, you ask? Plenty.

Sheryl Pattek

Vice-president, executive partner

It’s excellent aiming to resurrect the complete within the hearts and minds of connected customers, moreover because the terribly relevan...


CMO Interview: How Kodak’s global CMO is bringing the brand back from the brink

Read more

Great to see ActiveCampaign's growth funded with some serious money.As a platform, it's up there with the usual suspects in terms of feat...

Lawrence Ladomery

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 13 October

Read more


Kerry Edwards

Open Colleges taps into social for better student interaction

Read more

Or just go to sites like www.shopsthatshiptoaustralia.c... and others and be sure that the stores will send to where you live :-)


Why online shopping is like dating – RedBalloon CEO

Read more

Personalisation is the key. Customers demand a very relatable and well defined CX where the sincerity and understanding of their disposit...

Hitesh Parekh

In pictures: Improving cutomer experiences through smart personalisation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in