Nuance Locks in IBM to Advance Speech Solutions

Nuance Communications and IBM entered into a licensing and technical services agreement to enhance and expand speech solutions aimed at serving enterprises, consumers, carriers, and partners, the companies announced today.

To improve customer access to speech innovation, Nuance and IBM will work together to incorporate IBM technology into Nuance’s speech solutions. Additionally, Nuance will purchase speech-related patents from IBM.

According to Steve Chambers—president of the mobile, enterprise and consumer services division at Nuance—the deal with IBM had been in the works for years and is intended to strengthen Nuance’s competitiveness

“The idea that we could converge two leading innovative code bases to more effectively bring advancements to the market, that’s what propelled us before, and that’s definitely what propelled us to close this deal now,” he says.

According to Chambers—who praised IBM’s “legacy of technology”—the new partnership will mean a lot to Nuance customers looking for speech innovation.

“This arrangement involves our purchase of source code. IBM retains rights to their original technology, but we purchase the source code, and we’re going to be the channel through which innovations are delivered in the market,” he says. “So I think customers will understand that…and they’re going to feel that the promise of speech is going to be fulfilled by big initiatives just like this.”

Nuance said the first integrated speech products combining Nuance and IBM technologies will be available within two years. 

Although Chambers said it was too early to be specific about any potential new offerings, he noted the partnership would likely focus on the areas of natural language, “extreme natural language,” and noise robustness.

“There’s really no limit,” Chambers says. “The overall quality, the overall accuracy, the efficiency of the engine, the noise robustness, the extreme natural language, dictation [and] transcription capabilities in the engine. I think all of those will be key focal points.”

“[IBM has] invested for almost 60 years in this technology and the opportunity we have to incorporate it into our code, to create kind of a ‘best-of’ framework, that’s what was really exciting,” Chambers adds.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

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