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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

5 cornerstones of a strong digital culture

Creating a strong company culture may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, company culture is created in exactly the same fashion as a religion or democracy. Behaviours created from the organisation’s inception are reinforced over time by leadership, attracting like-minded people and eventually reaching critical mass to become an accepted ‘truth’.

Anthony Stevens

Founder and CEO, Digital Asset Ventures

Should you rebuild your company’s tech stack in blockchain?

The question I get asked most regularly these days is: ‘Do I need to rebuild my company’s systems on Blockchain?’ And the answer, every time, is ‘No, you’re asking the wrong question’.

Michelle O'Keeffe

CEO, Engaging.io

Customer value proposition: Getting the brand promise to your customers right

Throughout my career, I have witnessed a litany of brand names that profess to have a unique customer value proposition (CVP). In reality, however, they’ve had little more than a ‘value proposition’: A simple list of benefits applied to a general audience.

Ric Navarro

Global director of marketing and communications, Norman, Disney & Young

RE: Sales and marketing SLAs, often the choke point isn't the teams but them getting the data into the tools they want to use with the da...

Ed Fry

Why sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever

Read more

Amazing article Mitchell. I really enjoyed the read. Chatbots will be critical in the future evolution of banking and financial services ...

Giridhar Prathap Reddy

7 businesses successfully implementing chatbots

Read more

Thank you for the good and very helpful information. It is very interesting. I love all the things you share and see your beautiful creat...

รัตนาวดี ภูมิวรรณ

Former eHarmony marketing chief joins telco startup

Read more

Colin Kaepernick, not Mike Kapernick.

thisisw

Zenith's innovation leader: Mid-digital age not benefitting media, brands or consumers

Read more

AGA KHAN HOSPITAL is in need of kidney donors for the sum of 2 crore, Contact us today if you want to sell your kidney for money, and thi...

Sebastian Friedrich

Mindshare gets behind blockchain advertising alliance

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in