Samsung, Nuance and the Future of Speech Rec

Nuance is the company behind Siri and speech-recognition technology in any number of applications in the marketplace. If you’ve spoken with a digital assistant or automated voice system lately, chances are you’ve interacted with Nuance technology.

As well as Apple, the company counts Samsung among its customers, along with a large crop of service providers. So, what’s going on with this possible sale? And what does it portend for the speech rec industry?

Samsung Talks

Nuance is reportedly in talks with Samsung over a possible purchase, although there’s no guarantee that the Korean mobile powerhouse will actually buy the company.

On the news of the potential Samsung sale, Nuance stock on Nasdaq has jumped from $15 to $19. The company’s valuation is up a half a billion dollars from $5.5 billion to $6 billion.

Strong Market Position

Already, Nuance technology powers any number of voice applications. According to a Forbes article, Nuance generated $1.8 billion in revenue last year from a variety of customers, including Apple, HTC, LG and Samsung in the mobile space; Audi, BMW, Ford, GM and Toyota in the auto space; and Intel, Nintendo and Panasonic in the tech space at large.

Nuance is also pegged to do the speech recognition technology behind Samsung’s smartwatches, according to the Guardian, and is looking at the smart device market in general.

“The new area of smartwatches and wearables will be really sticky,” Nuance CTO Vlad Sejnoha told the Guardian. “That’s a really good form factor. It has the immediacy of information, and it doesn’t have the intrusive nature of something that you wear on your face.”

Future of Speech Rec

There’s every indication that speech rec will thrive in the coming years as mobile devices with speech rec proliferate and “hands-free” speech is poised to be the hot new user interface for embedded applications.

Nuance, as an industry leader, is working towards making its products closer to the artificial intelligence seen in the Spike Jonze movie Her. To get there, these systems have to rely on more than just conversation—they need to use context, previous interactions and ‘relationships’ the way thoughtful humans do.

“A human who is thoughtful understands your needs, wants and desires—he or she understands you and can contextualize that,” Nuance CMO Peter Mahoney told ReadWrite. “One of the things you talk about is having all the information. The more online information and the more great services out there that exist, the more we’ll be able to connect our intelligent systems that can understand everything that’s going on.”

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