Apple acquires Dublin AI start-up Voysis

6 Apr 20201.04k Views

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Dublin city, where Voysis was founded. Image: © Pavel Losevsky/Stock.adobe.com

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Voysis, an Irish company that developed tech to help digital voice assistants understand natural language, has been snapped up by Apple.

On Friday (3 April), Bloomberg reported that artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Voysis has been acquired by Apple. The Dublin-based company has since shut down its website.

Voysis was founded by Noel Ruane and Peter Cahill in 2012, with the aim of enabling businesses to set up deep-domain, brand-specific, intelligent voice systems to allow brands and users to have rich, natural language interactions. It used voice technology to make consumer and enterprise-facing applications more intuitive, efficient and personalised.

Cahill has experience researching speech technology and neural networks, while Ruane is a former IDA Ireland executive who played an important role in setting up Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs.

Voice tech

According to Bloomberg, the company’s website previously said that the technology developed by Voysis was focused on improving digital assistants in online shopping apps.

For instance, customers could use the technology to say, “I need a new LED TV” and “My budget is $1,000”, to narrow down search results.

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The technology has been described as being similar to Apple’s Siri voice assistant, but for businesses.

To help develop this tech, Voysis opened offices in Edinburgh and Boston, and raised $8m in venture funding from Polaris Partners in 2017.

The acquisition

Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. It was the second Apple acquisition reported last week, following the news that the company bought weather app Dark Sky.

Commenting on the deal, Apple said that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”.

Bloomberg suggested that the company will use the “acquired know-how to improve Siri’s understanding of natural language or to offer the Voysis platform to thousands of developers that already integrate with the Apple digital assistant”.

Some of Apple’s other recent AI acquisitions include Seattle-based Xnor.ai, and machine learning firms Laserlike in 2019 and Seattle-based Turi in 2016.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com