Samsung buys Greek text-to-speech startup Innoetics for an undisclosed fee

Jul 12, 2017

Samsung recently launched its Bixby virtual assistant and was reported to be building an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that would stand as a formidable rival offerings by Amazon, Google and Apple. The tech giant has reportedly acquired a startup company with a text-to-speech technology that could aid Samsung in developing its next generation voice-powered services, including Bixby.

Samsung has apparently sealed a deal that would see the global tech leader acquire Innoetics. The company is a startup established in 2006 as a spin-off company of the Institute for Language & Speech Processing of ‘Athena’ Research Centre.  The innovative startup has to its credit the development of a text-to-speech and voice-to-speech technology that can perform a host of functions. The technology can listen to a person speaking and then train on what that person is saying, and then read out a piece of completely unrelated text in that same voice.

Already, Innoetics has confirmed via email, following an inquiry by TechCrunch, that Samsung has agreed to acquire the company. Part of the email read thus;

“Samsung has agreed to acquire Innoetics.....Samsung is always exploring ways to deepen our relationships with companies like Innoetics whose technologies present an opportunity to strengthen Samsung’s capabilities.”

Samsung has also confirmed the deal. The terms of the deal are yet to be made official but it is believed to be a very lucrative deal for the tech startup out of Greece. It is, however, said to be lower than the approximately €40 million ($43 million) German company - Daimler paid for Taxibeat, an Uber rival it acquired earlier this year. Already, Innoetics has started showing signs that it is no longer open to business. Not that Samsung plans to shut down Innoetics and lay off its 8-10 employees based in Athens but it will be keeping the company as a subsidiary of its wider business. Innoetics recently posted on its website's homepage that the B2B services it has primarily been working on with telcos and other businesses have been discontinued.

Samsung's intentions for the Greek startup is not very clear but it is speculated that the Koran giant could prime the tech to work with its Bixby AI. Alternatively, the Innoetics tech could be incorporated with a new piece of Samsung hardware or something we are yet to find out. The acquisition of Innoetics is similar to the way Samsung acquired Viv, a personal assistant startup which it used to help build Bixby. Innoetics currently supports not one but 19 different languages, including English and (naturally) Greek, German and several dialects of Hindi and is a good tool to help Samsung develop Bixby into a versatile AI.

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