Facebook has acquired Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies, a speech recognition startup that developed the Jibbigo app for iOS and Android.
Jibbigo was launched in 2009, and allows users to get translations in 25 languages while out and about. They can record a voice snippet or type in some text and the programme then presents a translation on screen and reads aloud to them in the language selected.
The offline translator technology allows users to get by on their travels without having access to Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection. Facebook has not revealed how much it is paying for Mobile Technologies.
Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, said in a Facebook post: “I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Mobile Technologies, a company with an amazing team that’s behind some of the world’s leading speech recognition and machine translation technology.”
Facebook has not outlined yet how it will use the expertise of Mobile Technologies, but Facebook has previously worked on translating news feed posts and comments with the help of Microsoft’s Bing, which is also the engine behind translation efforts on Twitter.
By integrating Mobile Technologies into its advertising offering, Facebook could also deliver extended reach to its advertisers too, as they could potentially reach more customers with single advertising campaigns.
Stocky added: "With this deal we will welcome some of the industry's most talented people to our engineering teams in Menlo Park, California."
"Voice technology has become an increasingly important way for people to navigate mobile devices and the web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution. We believe this acquisition is an investment in our long-term product roadmap."