Nuance to Acquire Loquendo

Nuance Communications today announced an agreement to acquire Loquendo, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telecom Italia.

The deal, which is worth $75.5 million, follows deals earlier in the summer to acquire SVOX, a provider of voice solutions for in-car systems, mobile devices, and consumer electronics, and Webmedx, a provider of transcription and editing services and clinical documentation technology for hospitals and clinics.

The Loquendo deal, certainly the most significant of the three, brings to Nuance a broad, high-quality portfolio of voice and language solutions that includes text-to-speech (TTS), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and voice biometrics solutions. In addition, the acquisition enhances language coverage for network-based and embedded customers, and strengthens Nuance's global channel partnerships.

Loquendo provides speech technologies for telephony, mobile, automotive, embedded, and desktop solutions in 32 languages with 76 voices. Its speech solutions are deployed in more than 20 million devices worldwide, in embedded, automotive, and mobile environments, and power millions of calls every day in telecommunications and enterprise markets worldwide.

According to Dan Faulkner, vice president of product and strategy at Nuance, conversations between Nuance and Loquendo had been going on for some time. "There is a lot to like about Loquendo. We have long respected Loquendo's speech technology capabilities and products, particularly in the Romance languages," he said in an email. "We feel that strength is very complementary to Nuance's strengths. We also have a great deal of belief in the voice biometrics market, borne out by market activity this year, and Loquendo has done some excellent work in this arena as well.

"We're jointly committed—with Loquendo—to accelerating the adoption of world-class speech solutions," Faulkner continued. "We believe that together we can achieve improvements in adoption and in the state-of-the-art for speech technology more quickly than either company could on their own. The speech technology landscape continues to be extremely fast-moving and competitive, and we're looking forward to participating in it over the coming years."

Together, Nuance and Loquendo will accelerate innovation through a new center of excellence for speech research, based in Turin, Italy, where Loquendo is based. This expands on Nuance's existing research and development facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif.; Burlington, Mass.; Aachen, Germany; Merelbeke, Belgium; Zurich, Switzerland; and Montreal. 

"The adoption of speech technology is being driven by the increasing comfort in the use of speech by consumers, resulting in the demand for fully voice-enabled experiences across many industry segments," said Davide Franco, Loquendo's chairman and CEO, in a statement "By combining our technology and amazing employees with Nuance's robust capabilities and market strength, we look forward to continued success with our partners and customers."

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