Google has purchased Cambridge-based firm Phonetic Arts, which specialises in speech synthesis, in a bid to improve the capabilities of its voice-guided mobile applications.
A spokesperson for Google told eWEEK: "The Phonetic Arts team will join Google's existing efforts in speech technology to help drive innovation in the area of text-to-speech synthesis."
The team will be moved to Google’s London offices, where it will work on a multitude of applications that use or have the potential for using text-to-speech technology.
Applications such as Google Voice Search, Gmail and Translate seem like prime candidates to receive text-to-speech, as well as voice-to-text support, for emails, search results and on-the-fly foreign language translations. The likes of Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation could also benefit from the acquisition.
Google Speech Tech Manager Mike Cohen compared speech-guided technology to Star Trek, where future Earthlings can converse with their computers.
He said: "We are excited about their technology, and while we don't have plans to share yet, we're confident that together we'll move a little faster toward that Star Trek future."