Apple acquires AI start-up Voysis, eyes deal for NextVR

Apple has acquired AI start-up Voysis and could complete a $100m deal to purchase live events enterprise NextVR as it looks to improve Siri and boost its augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

On Friday, Apple revealed a deal for Voysis, an Irish company that has built a digital platform that allows voice assistants to better interpret natural language.

Apple could use the tech to deliver improvements to its own AI assistant Siri at a time when voice-related features and search are becoming much more widely used by smartphone owners.

There were no financial details disclosed, though records show that Voysis did post a loss of €6.7m during the last financial year.

In a statement, Apple said: “(Apple) buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Voysis, which was founded eight years ago, has developed a system based on Wavenets, deep neural networks capable of generating realistic, human-like voices.

Voysis says that the AI platforms can deliver “more intuitive, efficient and personalised experiences”, which is something that Apple will be hoping to deploy across its operating systems.

The acquisition comes just days after Apple completed a deal to buy the weather app Dark Sky.

Reports over the weekend claim that further acquisitions are likely, with California-based NextVR next on the list.

The live events VR company has already produced video content for a host of big events, including Wimbledon and the NBA.

Consumers can access the videos by using VR headsets at home.

NextVR may be open to acquisition as a funding round last year failed to gain traction and it had to let go of around 40% of its workforce.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook spoke of the importance of AR and VR earlier this year, so similar deals linked to the cutting-edge tech could be in the offing.

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I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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