Samsung has agreed to acquire the Greek text-to-speech startup Innoetics, the Korean company confirmed to ZDNet. The deal could help Samsung improve its voice-activated agent Bixby, and it could potentially help it move into the smart speaker market.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though TechCrunch reports the startup was acquired for less than $50 million.
Innoetics, according to its website, was established in 2006 as a spin-off company of the Institute of Language & Speech Processing at the Athena Research Center. Along with text-to-speech, it also specializes in voice-to-speech services and supports several different languages.
"Our technology stands out due to its high performance in accuracy, intelligibility, expressivity and naturalness," the company said. It highlights its potential applications, including text-to-speech services for mobile apps, games, educational apps, call center technologies or for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
In a statement provided to ZDNet, a Samsung spokesperson said, "Samsung is always exploring ways to deepen our relationships with companies like Innoetics whose technologies present an opportunity to strengthen Samsung's capabilities."
Thanks to improvements speech recognition technology, voice has been touted as the next big interface. Samsung has made bold statements regarding its voice-activated assistant Bixby, promising in March to make it the "interface for your life." However, when the Galaxy S8 launched in May, Bixby voice was only available in Korean. Its release for English-speaking markets remains delayed. As it works on Bixby, Samsung is also reportedly developing a smart speaker project that would compete against the Amazon Echo and Google Home.