Google courts Star Trek technology with latest acquisition

6 Dec 2010

Google has announced the acquisition of a speech synthesis company the internet search giant expects will deliver it “towards a Star Trek future”.

Announced on the Google blog, Google’s acquisition of Phonetic Arts represents a further step in the direction of voice-activation service technologies the company has been investigating recently.

Speech recognition

“We’ve recently made some strides with speech technologies and tools that take voice input, for example, we launched Voice Search, Voice Input and Voice Actions for mobile phones, allowing you to speak web searches, compose emails by voice, ask your phone to play any song, and more. And last year we started automatically transcribing speech to produce captions on YouTube videos,” the blog entry reads.

“Google Translate ‘speaks’ translated text in multiple languages, and you can listen to navigation instructions as you drive — but there’s still a lot to do. That’s why we’re pleased to announce we’ve acquired Phonetic Arts.”

Star Trek technology

The blog entry likened the acquisition to moving closer towards the technology used in the Star Trek movies, where nearly all computers are commanded by voice.

Google said it’s “delighted” to be deepening its investment on the technology and innovation that could one day bring this particular science fiction technology closer to science fact.

“In Star Trek, they don’t spend a lot of time typing things on keyboards — they just speak to their computers, and the computers speak back. It’s a more natural way to communicate … we’re confident that together we’ll move a little faster towards that Star Trek future.”

Phonetic Arts’ team of researchers and engineers work with speech synthesis, delivering technology that generates natural computer speech from small samples of recorded voice.