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Google buys University of Toronto voice and object recognition start-up

Google has acquired a three person start-up out of the University of Toronto computer science department called DNNresearch.

DNNresearch - which is focused on voice and image recognition - was incorporated in 2010 by Professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever (all pictured, top). The three researchers will be joining Google as part of the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The web giant reportedly picked up DNNresearch for its research on "deep learning" networks - the task of explaining context to machines. Their research could advance areas such as speech recognition, computer vision, and language understanding.

For Google, this research is important since users are increasingly trying to search the web by snapping an image of something about which they hope to learn more, or speaking a query into their smartphone. In a Google+ post this week, Hinton said he spent several months last summer working with Google's Knowledge team, which is working to progress the field of machine learning.

"Together with two of my recent graduate students ... I am betting on Google's team to be the epicenter of future breakthroughs," Hinton wrote. "That means we'll soon be joining Google to work with some of the smartest engineering minds to tackle some of the biggest challenges in computer science."

Hinton will remain part time at the University of Toronto, dividing his time between university research and his work at Google. He will spend time at Google's Toronto office and the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

"I am extremely excited about this fantastic opportunity to keep my research here in Toronto and, at the same time, help Google apply new developments in deep learning to make systems that help people," Hinton said in a statement.

Image credit: John Guatto via the University of Toronto