Facebook to Acquire Developer of Speech Translation Tools

Facebook has agreed to acquire Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies, a developer of voice-recognition and speech translation tools. Founded in 2001, Mobile Technologies offers an automatic interpretation service for lectures and developed Jibbigo, a speech-to-speech translator app for iPhone and Android. The company’s goal has been to break “through language barriers to open up communication between the people of the world.”

Mobile Technologies will join Facebook at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

“With 6,000 languages in the world, the language divide presents the greatest human communication challenge,” suggests the press release. “Mobile Technologies has developed a number of cross-lingual communication tools: Jibbigo, the world’s first speech-to-speech translator on a phone that runs online and even off-line, independent from the Internet.”

“Travelers around the world use Jibbigo to communicate in foreign countries and health-care workers overcome the language challenge in humanitarian missions,” adds the release. “Mobile Technologies also developed and deployed the first automatic, simultaneous interpretation service for lectures and deployed it in educational settings, so that ideas can transcend nations and cultures.”

“It has always been our mission to make the world more open and connected,” Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, wrote in a post earlier this week. “Although more than a billion people around the world already use Facebook every month, we are always looking for ways to help connect the rest of the world as well.”

“Voice technology has become an increasingly important way for people to navigate mobile devices and the Web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution,” explains Stocky. “We believe this acquisition is an investment in our long-term product roadmap as we continue towards our company’s mission.”

The Jibbigo app is available via Google Play and the Apple App Store.