Amazon acquires text-to-speech company IVONA

Amazon announced Thursday that it has acquired IVONA Software, a Polish company specializing in text-to-speech and voice recognition capabilities. The terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

IVONA's technology is already used in Amazon products, most notably in its Kindle Fire tablets. The Kindle Fire's accessibility options - including "voice guide," which reads out the names of items or options selected by visually impaired users, and other text-to-speech features - rely on technology provided by IVONA.

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According to Dave Limp, vice president of Amazon Kindle, closer integration with IVONA will be a big help to the company.

"IVONA's exceptional text-to-speech technology leads the industry in natural voice quality, accuracy and ease of use," he said in a statement. "The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world."

Amazon did not divulge details on what those great products might be, but speculation about a possible rival to Siri and Google Now broke out quickly after the announcement was made, even though IVONA's technology is not focused on voice recognition. The statement also revived speculation about a possible Amazon phone, though that too seems to be based only on guesswork.

IVONA's CEO and co-founder, Lukasz Osowski, expressed gratitude for Amazon's backing.

"We are all thrilled that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can continue to innovate and deliver exceptional voice and language support for our customers," he said.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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