Feeds

Microsoft buys voice recognition firm

Promotes telephony access to the Web

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Microsoft has acquired speech-recognition specialist Entropic for an undisclosed sum. Microsoft already has a $60 million investment (some 7 per cent) in Lernout & Hauspie whose activities overlap to a certain extent, but it was enough to make L&H's share price dive 7 per cent on Friday after the news was known, and to open lower this morning. The spin being put on the acquisition by CEO Gaston Bastiaens is that Microsoft wanted speech engineers, so went out and bought them, since they are in demand and hard to recruit. He also noted that it is in L&H's interest that a voice interface becomes standard in Windows as soon as possible. Entropic has around 40 people in its Washington DC headquarters at the Entropic Cambridge Research Laboratory which was formed in 1995 as a joint venture. ECRL is a commercial conduit for Cambridge's Speech, Vision and Robotics Group, headed by Professor Stephen Young, Entropic's chief scientist. Let's hope that the taxpayers benefit from this cosy arrangement. The ominous news from ECRL is that "All current Entropic tool kits/SDK products have been withdrawn from the market" and that customers with maintenance contracts will get a prorated refund. Entropic has developed UNIX/Linux- and NT-based speech processing schools. We asked Brian Corbett, the MD of ECRL, whether this meant that UNIX development would now stop but he would not be drawn. This is about as eloquent a response as is needed to assume that Microsoft is pretty happy to extinguish further UNIX development. Paul Finke, CEO of Entropic, said that the Microsoft acquisition "would enable us to execute our strategy, allow our technology to reach a larger market and do so more quickly than would have been possible had we remained a standalone company". That also sounds like Windows-in, UNIX-out. The Washington DC office will close, and staff willing to go to Fort Redmond will be given that opportunity. Nathan Myhrvold, former head of Microsoft Research until he went walkabout, said a year or so ago that his group had completed the development of speech recognition software and that it would be included in MS Office. Now Microsoft is saying that Entropic's expertise will "complement Microsoft's ongoing efforts to enhance its speech-enabled applications" and Microsoft's speech application programming interface (SAPI). It seems as a major thrust will be for telephony access to the Web, according to "excited" Entropic founder John Shore. Another interpreatation of the deal is seen in Microsoft's statement that it is offering "a broad range of speech recognition and synthesis engines provided by various third-party speech vendors". This hints that Microsoft may try to acquire or further control other vendors like Dragon and more of L&H as a move towards wrapping up most of the action outside IBM. In addition, Microsoft probably hopes to perk up the slowing US momentum for home computers with the gimmick of speech recognition, but regional American accents may prove too much even for the Cambridge Brits. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.