"Automatic speech recognition (ASR) is one of the fastest growing and commercially most promising applications of natural language technology. Speech is the most natural communicative medium for humans in many situations, including applications such as giving dictation; querying database or information-retrieval systems; or generally giving commands to a computer or other device, especially in environments where keyboard input is awkward or impossible (for example, because one's hands are required for other tasks)."
– from Linguistic Knowledge and Empirical Methods in Speech Recognition. By Andreas Stolcke. (1997). AI Magazine 18 (4): 25-32.
A big part of Microsoft's strategy after its brief risk of fading into obscurity in the late 2000s has involved major acquisitions. The acquisition of LinkedIn allowed Microsoft to move into social media, and the platform has thrived under Microsoft ownership. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that Microsoft is not stopping there. The latest acquisition made by the tech giant is second only to LinkedIn in terms of overall cost to the company, and it involves a completely different sector of the tech industry. The latest firm that has been acquired by Microsoft is called Nuance, and it specializes in AI based speech tech with an emphasis on voice recognition.
Whether your road trip soundtracks consist of music, news, entertainment, or talk, Spotify's Car Thing has you covered. The new smart player, currently available to select users in the U.S., puts your audio library just a voice command, tap, turn, or swipe away. "Car Thing enables you to play your favorite audio faster, so you're already listening to that hit song or the latest podcast episode before you've even pulled out of the driveway," according to a Spotify blog announcement. "Switching between your favorite audio is effortless, allowing you to shift gears to something else as soon as the mood strikes." You will need a Spotify Premium account to use Car Thing, but setup is simple: plug the device into a 12-volt power outlet, sync it with your smartphone (iOS 14 and Android 8 or above), and connect your phone to the vehicle's stereo.
Microsoft's decision to spend $19.7 billion to purchase Nuance Communications took a number of industry analysts by surprise. In justifying the amount, Satya Nadella touted Nuance as a "pioneer" in the field of conversational AI for health care and highlighted the impact its tech would have on establishing Microsoft as a leading vendor in the sector. But the rationale seems to lie beyond trying to own just one industry. Instead, Nuance could fill a critical void that would help Microsoft compete more fiercely against rivals like AWS. To be sure, the health care component is a big deal and gives Microsoft access to a critical sales channel at a time when competing vendors are also pivoting quickly to industry-specific products.
Seoul, South Korea: SpeechEMR, an automatic voice recognition service designed by Seoul-based health-tech startup DOUB, records medical events and converts them into text data in real-time facilitating users to record medical events in a jiffy. SpeechEMR provides a high recognition rate of over 95 percent using artificial intelligence (AI) voice recognition technology specially designed for use in the medical field. Spoken audio data such as the conversations between doctors and patients or medical dictations are converted into text in real-time, through processes such as noise removal and silent syllable separation. This voice recognition service then quickly edits and saves the medical records with misspelling and omission on display coupled with correct word suggestions and medical terminology dictionary provision. Preventing information errors and improving the clarity highlights important information such as numbers, dates, units, sizes, and locations increasing the clarity and preventing sensitive information errors.
Microsoft is buying AI speech tech firm Nuance for $19.7 billion, bolstering the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant's prowess in voice recognition and giving it further leverage in the health care market, where Nuance sells many products. Microsoft will pay $56 per share for Nuance, a 23 percent premium over the company's closing price last Friday. The deal includes Nuance's net debt. Nuance is best known for its Dragon software, which uses deep learning to transcribe speech and improves its accuracy over time by adapting to a user's voice. Nuance has licensed this tech for many services and applications, including, most famously, Apple's digital assistant Siri.
Microsoft, on an accelerated growth push, is buying speech recognition company Nuance in a deal worth about $16 billion. The acquisition will get Microsoft deeper into hospitals and the health care industry through Nuance's widely used medical dictation and transcription tools. Microsoft will pay $56 per share cash. The companies value the transaction including debt at $19.7 billion. Shares of Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance surged more than 16% in Monday trading.
At this point, we've seen rumors, job listings, blog posts, FCC filings and more rumors about Spotify's in-car music player over the span of a few years. In fact, I was convinced it would never become a thing the public could actually use. When the company first revealed a piece of hardware called "Car Thing" in 2019, Spotify was clear the test was meant "to help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts." It also explained that there weren't "any current plans" to make that device available to consumers. Now Spotify is ready for select users to get their hands on a refined version of the voice-controlled in-car player.
When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke to investors Monday about his company's plan to acquire speech-recognition specialist Nuance for $16 billion, he emphasized the importance of artificial intelligence in health care. Nuance's software listens to doctor-patient conversations and transcribes speech into organized digitized medical notes. This helps explain the hefty price tag, even as voice recognition has become commoditized and now comes packaged with every smartphone and laptop. But Microsoft may also see much broader potential for Nuance's technology. Gregg Pessin, an analyst with Gartner, says the deal gives Microsoft "an entry point into the health care industry, and a huge customer base already running this stuff."
Microsoft Corp.'s $16 billion deal for Nuance Communications Inc. is the latest sign that the next battleground for technology giants will be in healthcare, an industry whose need to embrace data and software was underscored by the pandemic. The acquisition will help Microsoft tap into Nuance's big business selling its software to healthcare systems, according to analysts and healthcare executives. Speech-recognition software like that developed by Nuance is emerging as an important new opportunity in medicine as doctors seek to speed up documentation of patient work with dictation rather than getting bogged down taking notes, executives said. "This coming together is about empowering healthcare," Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief executive, said in an investor call. "It's now very clear that healthcare organizations that accelerate their digital investments can improve patient outcomes and reduce cost at scale."