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September 21, 2016

Google targets natural language with API.AI acquisition

Acquisition will help Google in the development of its own natural language interfaces.

By Ellie Burns

Search engine giant Google has acquired API.AI, a start-up launched in 2014 that develops machine learning technologies to enable natural language interfaces.

Financial details about the acquisition have not been disclosed by Google.

The tools and technologies developed by the Sunnyvale, California-based company can handle speech recognition, intent recognition and context management. This lets developers offer domain-specific knowledge, unique to each bot’s needs.

Google Engineering vice president Scott Huffman said: “API.AI has a proven track record for helping developers design, build and continuously improve their conversational interfaces.

“Over 60,000 developers are using API.AI to build conversational experiences, for environments such as Slack, Facebook Messenger and Kik, to name just a few.

“API.AI offers one of the leading conversational user interface platforms and they’ll help Google empower developers to continue building great natural language interfaces.”

Developers use API.AI’s tools to develop their own machining learning, conversational interfaces for several services including chatbots, connected cars, smart home devices, mobile applications, wearables, services, robots and more.

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The services are offered in about 15 languages including English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

Ilya Gelfenbeyn, CEO of Api.ai.

Ilya Gelfenbeyn, CEO of Api.ai.

API.AI has been building conversational interfaces for several organisations including Slack, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Skype, Telegram, Microsoft Cortana and Kik.

API.AI CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn said: “Joining Google will allow us to accelerate improvements to the platform and service our growing developer community in ways we’ve always dreamed.

“With Google’s knowledge, infrastructure and support, we can make sure you get access to the best available technologies and developments in AI and machine learning.”

Recently, Google launched its new Google Cloud Natural Language API, where users are allowed to reveal the structure and meaning of the text and its upcoming messaging app Allo can also understand natural language patterns.

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