Samsung Electronics on Wednesday announced that it acquired a 100-percent share of Greek text-to-speech startup Innoetics. The South Korean original equipment manufacturer (OEM) didn't reveal when the transaction was officially concluded nor did it disclose its financial details, though the company confirmed that the deal was negotiated by the Samsung Global Innovation Center (GIC), the company's branch that specializes in small and medium strategic mergers and acquisitions.
Innoetics is a recipient of several awards in the field of speech processing solutions, having been spearheading the development of this technology since its roots in 2006. Despite being a relatively established name in the industry, Innoetics was still operating as a startup until recently and is now reportedly joining Samsung's family primarily due to the Seoul-based tech giant's desire to improve the voice recognition capabilities of Bixby, its latest artificial intelligence (AI) assistant which was originally launched earlier this year but is still slow to roll out to a large number of users due to numerous technical issues. Following its spring debut in Samsung's home country, Bixby only managed to arrive in the United States in the form of a small beta test and is still relatively limited compared to alternative services like the Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. The company previously said that the solution was delayed due to a lack of big data that it depends on to improve, though it's currently unclear whether Innoetics will be able to directly assist its new parent on that front.
Apart from providing Samsung with additional voice recognition expertise, the Greek firm may also be able to ennoble the so-called Bixby Vision, a computer vision aspect of the assistant that was designed to recognize real-world objects but is still largely limited in everyday use, some industry watchers claim. Bixby was originally introduced as both one of the main selling points of the Galaxy S8 lineup and the start of a new AI ecosystem which is meant to encompass everything from smartphones and TVs to speakers and refrigerators. Samsung is also currently said to be developing a direct competitor to Amazon's Echo series and the Google Home that's supposedly powered by Bixby, though the company likely won't be able to commercialize that product until next year.