Facebook has announced the purchase of speech recognition and translation firm Mobile Technologies. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Facebook announced the deal on Monday night, with Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook explaining in a blog post that the company hoped to use the talent and technology gained from the deal to improve its own services, especially as its increases its global user base.
“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,” he wrote. “We believe this acquisition is an investment in our long-term product roadmap as we continue towards our company's mission.”
The mobile capabilities in particular will have appealed to Facebook as it will enable it to expand its offerings on smartphones and tablets, seen as a key piece of its ability to generate revenues.
As such, Mobile Technologies’ most noteworthy product, an app called Jibbigo, is designed to provide speech translation both online and offline, and this could well be incorporated into Facebook in the future.
Mobile Technologies, formed in 2001, said it would be moving offices to Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park as part of the deal and was looking forward to taking its technologies to a wider audience.
“With 6,000 languages in the world, the language divide presents the greatest human communication challenge,” it said in a note about the Facebook acquisition on its website. “Facebook, with its mission to make the world more open and connected, provides the perfect platform to apply our technology at a truly global scale.”
The firm also touted the capabilities of its product set, giving some indication of the reasons that will have swayed Facebook to purchase the firm. “Travellers around the world use Jibbigo to communicate in foreign countries and healthcare workers overcome the language challenge in humanitarian missions,” it said.
“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.”
The deal comes during a successful patch for Facebook, which has seen its share price rise back to the original launch price thanks to strong financials on the back of mobile advertising growth. The boost prompted chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to sell over 2.25 million shares last week, netting her a cool $91m in the process.
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