January 28, 2013
Amazon and Ivona: Kindle Perhaps Mute No More
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
If you’re a Kindle owner who is just a little jealous of your iPad friends’ rapport with Siri, you may have reason to be jealous no longer. Amazon newly revealed that it has acquired Ivona Software, a speech synthesis company that competes with Nuance, Apple’s (News - Alert) speech technology partner.
Ivona Software was established in 2001 by Lukasz Osowski and Michal Kaszczuk, two graduates of the Gdansk University of Technology in Poland. The company develops and delivers speech synthesis solutions for the text-to-speech (TTS) market, striving for excellence in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
IVONA offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages, with even more currently in development. The company provides its text-to-speech products and services to thousands of developers, businesses and customers around the world.
Ivona technology is not new to Amazon: it is already featured in the Kindle Fire for services covering text-to-speech, voice commands and “Explore by Touch,” TechCrunch reported last week. Furthermore, Amazon is expected to use the acquisition to strengthen the natural language capabilities of future iterations of its popular Kindle tablet computers and e-readers.
“IVONA’s exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use. IVONA is already instrumental in helping us deliver excellent accessibility features on Kindle Fire, including Text-to-Speech, Voice Guide and Explore by Touch,” said Dave Limp, VP, Amazon Kindle, in a statement. “The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world,” he added.
The report notes that although Amazon’s use of speech technology is not nearly as widespread as that of Apple and Siri for the iOS, it could potentially become an important part of the company’s business proposition, particularly in formats such as audiobooks.
So in the near future, it just might be possible to talk to your Kindle…and more importantly, hear it talk to you in return. I wonder what it would sound like?
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