Google has acquired Cambridge-based speech synthesis startup Phonetic Arts in a bid to improve speech output from computers and mobile devices.
Phonetic Arts was established in 2006, and develops software that can generate millions of lines of natural speech from a small sample of recorded dialogue.
Google has already launched Voice Search, Voice Input and Voice Actions apps for its Android devices, but the new acquisition will help the firm move a step closer to a 'Star Trek' future in which people have natural conversations with computers.
"There are already places you can hear this in action today. For example, Google Translate speaks translated text in multiple languages, and you can listen to navigation instructions as you drive. But there's still a lot to do," said Mike Cohen, manager of speech technology at Google, in a blog post.
"There's a particular focus right now in the UK on technology and innovation, and we're delighted to be deepening our investment in the country with this acquisition. We already have a strong engineering centre in London and look forward to welcoming Phonetic Arts."
The Phonetic Arts team expressed excitement at joining Google and plans to continue breaking new ground in the field of speech recognition.
"We see great opportunities integrating with Google's technologies and products, and look forward to being part of its world-class speech team. Most of all, we are excited about the great opportunities in speech technology that lie ahead," the firm said in a statement.
Terms of the acquisition remain undisclosed at this time.
Google has been less successful in its attempt to buy online discount site Groupon after negotiations broke down over the weekend. The proposed acquisition of the Chicago-based startup would have been Google's biggest to date.
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