Apple buys Irish voice tech company Voysis to help improve Siri

Voysis has developed tech that accurately understands voice commands from users

Peter Cahill, co-founder of Voysis, which has been bought by Apple

Peter Cahill, co-founder of Voysis, which has been bought by Apple

 

Voysis, an Irish company that has developed technology that helps digital voice assistants understand natural language better, has been acquired by Apple.

No financial details of the deal, which was first reported by Bloomberg News late on Friday, have been disclosed. Analysts said Voysis’s technology would likely be used by the technology giant to help improve the company’s virtual assistant Siri.

“(Apple) buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” the Cupertino-headquartered company said in a brief statement.

Voysis was founded in 2012 by Peter Cahill who had previously spent 15 years researching speech technology and neural network research. The company has developed a voice recognition platform driven by natural language instructions and search capabilities that is extremely good at recognising and responding to voice commands from users.

The Voysis deal comes just months after Google acquired another Irish technology start-up, Pointy, in a $160 million deal.

It represents another big pay day for Irish tech veteran Noel Ruane’s Polaris Partners, which led an $8 million Series A funding round for Voysis in 2017, and which also previously backed Pointy.

Mr Ruane, a former executive at IDA Ireland, is a co-founder of Voysis and serves at its executive chairman. He was instrumental in setting up Dogpatch Labs in Dublin while Polaris has backed a number of Irish tech companies including Boxever Logentries and Profitero.

Voysis’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology was used primarily by companies who wanted to create their own voice-led apps and assistants independently of those provided by tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Google.

The company, which also has offices in Boston and Edinburgh scored a major coup in 2018 when it persuaded one of Google’s most celebrated engineers to join the company. Ian Hodson, former head of voice at the tech giant, was in charge of its text to speech programme and provided pivotal input on Google Maps, Google Assistant and Android voice, before joining Voysis.

The last publicly available accounts for Voysis, which cover 2018, show it had accumulated losses of €6.7 million.

The acquisition is the second deal from Apple this week after it also acquired weather app Dark Sky, also for an undisclosed sum.