Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Meet VocalIQ

VocalIQ was a small Cambridge-based startup, launched in 2011, that specialized in natural speech recognition and conversational interactions. From their website, circa August last year:

Every time your application is used it gets a little bit smarter. Previous conversations are central to it’s [sic] learning process – allowing the system to better understand future requests and in turn, react more intelligently. As a developer, you have the ability to change your system’s interpretation or behavior directly in your app.

And from a Times article published in June:

“The internet of things won’t be possible without a simple way to interact with all of these devices,” Vishal Chatrath, of VocalIQ, says. The Cambridge-based start-up has developed an alternative to Apple’s Siri that engages the user in conversation. The company is releasing a trial app next month.

The ambition does not end there. “One of our key projects is to develop a car that can talk to you, like in Knight Rider,” Mr Chatrath says. “That’s the level we’re targeting.”

Compelling, right? Turns out that Apple acquired them in October. And Brian Roemmele has been following along with VocalIQ for a long time:

If Apple utilizes just a small subset of the technology developed by VocalIQ, we will see a far more advanced Siri. However I am quite certain the amazing work of Tom Gruber will also be utilized. Additionally the amazing technology from Emollient, Perception and a number of unannounced and future Apple acquistions [sic] will also become a big part of Apple’s AI future.

By “Perception”, Roemmele likely means the automatic photo classification startup Perceptio. Apple confirmed their acquisition of the company just three days after they purchased VocalIQ.

So, who’s excited for WWDC?