Tech firm Nuance opens office in Dublin


SPEECH TECHNOLOGY firm Nuance Communications is to officially open its Dublin office today, locating its international headquarters in the city.

The new operation is bringing 40 jobs to the city, with the roles spread across finance, human resources and sales.

Nuance, which has its worldwide headquarters in Boston, develops speech and imaging technologies that are used in everything from customer services to healthcare. The firm is famous for its voice recognition software Dragon, which is available across a range of platforms, including mobile.

Neil Weston, senior vice-president of Nuance EMEA, said the company was finding the talent it needed in Ireland. “There are so many multinationals here, running everything from finance to telesales, it’s unlikely we wouldn’t find what we need here.”

The facility is about two-thirds of the way through its recruitment drive, and Mr Weston said the firm expected to reach its goal by the end of this year or mid-way through next year.

He praised the “tremendous talent” in the country.

The use of voice-enabled interfaces has increased dramatically in recent years, with popular handsets such as Apple’s iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy SIII developing digital assistants controlled by voice commands.

More than six billion mobile phones using Nuance’s technology have left factories. Mr Weston said applications like Apple’s Siri have helped raise consumer awareness of what was available in the mobile world.

Recent months have seen voice commands coming to cars and TVs, with Mr Weston predicting that home appliances were also suited to the technology. The company was “betting its future” on the growth in the voice-control sphere.

“TV is where we see some serious explosion,” he said, adding that there was some complexity with TV with the need to differentiate between multiple people controlling the device and taking into account background noise.

Nuance recently signed a deal with Samsung to bring its Dragon voice technology to its premium smart TVs, allowing users to change channels, search online, and connect with friends through voice commands. The company has also done deals with LG and Panasonic to bring the technology to TVs and remote controls.

Other applications for the technology include voice biometrics, helping to fight fraud and security applications for governments. However, Mr Weston said although the technical ability was there, there were some governance issues to work through and the technology was not mature.

Nuance employs more than 6,000 people worldwide, and has more than 35 regional offices. In its fiscal year 2011 it recorded sales of $1.4 billion.