When Siri arrived on the iPhone 4S it seemed like a magic piece of software. The future had arrived. But it wasn’t alone. True Knowledge, a British startup with a natural language search engine developed in university labs, had been working out what to do next. Siri was the ‘boom’ moment. They licensed Nuance’s voice recognition technology and created an app based on the True Knowledge engine, called Evi, which worked on any iPhone and Android.
That clever move looks like it paid off. TechCrunch understands from sources that the company has been sold to Amazon for $26 million. However, calls to Amazon PR, backers Octopus Ventures and the founders of Evi have ben met with a stoney silence. A spokesperson for Octopus told us: “On this occasion Octopus will decline to comment on this specific portfolio company.”
Evi is the potential front-end for Ivona, a speech-recognition company Amazon bought in January.
Amazon today announced that it is acquiring Ivona Software, a Polish-based specialist in voice technologies that competes with Nuance and is already used in the Kindle Fire for services covering text-to-speech, voice commands and “Explore by Touch.” The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
I was more impressed than most with the original Kindle Fire. Not because the hardware was good – it wasn’t – or because the software was great – it wasn’t either. Rather, the absolute seamlessness with which on device content was integreated with both cloud-based content AND content to buy or rent was amazing.
Buying stuff is fun, especially when the transaction is as painless as Amazon makes it. And buying stuff on the Fire has been fun since day one.
Still, all of that buying was digital; a Fire phone brings the Amazon purchase experience literally everywhere.
Remember when Amazon was incenting shoppers to use their price-checker app?
Today, December 10th, Amazon is offering a very special deal you’re going to love and your local brick-and-mortar retailer is going to hate. Use its PriceCheck mobile app and get 5% off your purchase, up to $5 at a time, as many as 3 times. Why the discounts to use PriceCheck? The app is designed to get you to visit local shops, try out a product, submit valuable pricing data to Amazon, leave without buying anything, and make your purchase on Amazon instead.
Imagine such functionality accessible with a dedicated button. Instant gratification, with nothing more than a bar code and your Amazon Fire phone. Or even better, nothing more than simply saying:
“Evi, buy me a toaster.”