January 7, 2015
Facebook has reportedly acquired Wit.ai, a Palo Alto-based startup with an API that allows developers to make use of voice recognition and natural language processing technology for their products. Although Facebook has not yet disclosed any details about Wit moving forward, it seems that the social network’s instant messaging app Messenger will likely be a part of the plan. The voice recognition technology that Wit provides Facebook is in line with that of Apple’s Siri.
According to Wired, a Facebook representative released the following statement in regards to the company’s latest acquisition: “‘Wit.ai has built an incredible yet simple natural language processing API that has helped developers turn speech and text into actionable data… We’re excited to have them onboard.'”
Wit is is reportedly used by over 6,000 software developers. Using Wit’s technology, Facebook can now build a messaging app that can be controlled via voice commands. An improved Messenger, for example, would not only handle voice commands, but also identify meaning to messages and provide answers just like Apple’s Siri.
TechCrunch suggests, “Facebook may focus instead on being able to interpret the inflection and colloquialisms that humans use when talking to each other.” As wearables become more popular, the voice recognition technology may prove to be valuable for Facebook beyond its intended purposes.
In some ways, Wit can complement Facebook’ Parse, a technology that helps mobile developers with the development of theirs apps. Because so many third parties are already using Wit to add natural language processing and voice recognition capabilities to their own apps, it makes sense that Facebook would go ahead and pair Wit with Parse.