Social networking giant Facebook made arguably the most surprsing acquisition of 2014 when it purchased virtual reality (VR) specialist Oculus VR for some $2 billion USD. Just a few days into 2015 and the company has now made another acquisition that, while may not prove to be as expensive as the Oculus Rift creator, could turn out to be another significant step in its VR journey. Facebook has bought up Wit.ai, a speech recognition start-up company that was first founded 18 months ago.
Wit.ai offers a free platform that allows developers to incorporate its free speech recognition technology into app and devices. In fact, more than 6000 developers have already worked with the company. Facebook hasn’t made its plans for the group known to the public, although it isn’t hard to see just how this technology could fit in with the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD), potentially allowing for voice recognition in VR experiences. Again, neither company has confirmed that this is even on the table for Wit.ai, but it’s worth taking note.
“It is an incredible acceleration in the execution of our vision,” Wit.ai said of the news. “Facebook has the resources and talent to help us take the next step. Facebook’s mission is to connect everyone and build amazing experiences for the over 1.3 billion people on the platform – technology that understands natural language is a big part of that, and we think we can help.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the developers, investors, and mentors who believed in us. We want to thank everyone who has been a part of the first leg of this journey. This is just the beginning,” the company concluded.
One thing to note is that Oculus VR itself has been making plenty of acquisitions since it was purchased by Facebook, mostly recently taking on hand-tracking company Nimble VR. It’s possible that Oculus Rift support fits into Facebook’s wider plans for Wit.ai but, if that were the case, Oculus VR itself might have bought the company. VRFocus will continue to follow this development all the same, reporting back with any updates.