Microsoft has announced the acquisition of a messaging app developer called Wand Labs that the firm said will accelerate its conversation-as-a-platform plans. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Wand Labs' technologies chiefly involve chatbots that can communicate with people using artificial intelligence to solve queries without requiring human interaction.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined this as a major new area of interest for the firm at the recent Build conference.
David Ku, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Information Platform Group, explained that Wand Labs' technology could be added to key Microsoft products, such as Bing, Azure, Office 365 and Windows.
"Wand Labs’ technology and talent will strengthen our position in the emerging era of conversational intelligence, where we bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence," he said.
"The Wand team’s expertise around semantic ontologies, services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces make them a great fit to join the Bing engineering and platform team, especially with the work we’re doing in the area of intelligent agents and chatbots."
Vishal Sharma, CEO of Wand Labs, added that now is an ideal time to join Microsoft. “It’s an exciting time to be working in the area of semantics and conversation,” he said.
“Our deep experience with semantics, messaging and authority are a natural fit for the work already underway at Microsoft, especially in the area of intelligent agents and cognitive services."
Chatbots are being deployed in several sectors. RBS uses the bank's Luvo chat agent internally, while Enfield Council is to start using IPSoft's Amelia chat agent later this year.
The acquisition of Wand Labs ends a busy week for Microsoft, during which the firm paid a huge $26.2bn for LinkedIn in a move that most analysts see as focusing on the need for a core dataset of professional people to target with its offerings.
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