Futurism News Startups

Google acquires natural language startup API.ai to help developers build better conversational experiences

Google’s research arm has been working on some complex but powerful natural language and machine learning algorithms. It has recently unveiled a much more powerful version of its virtual assistant, Google Now, but is now bringing on some help from outside to expand its team and expedite its efforts.

Announced today, Google is continuing its investment in machine learning tech that enables natural language interfaces. It has, thus, acquired a natural language understanding startup API.ai that helps developers build conversational interfaces into their chatbots, connected cars, smart home devices, mobile applications, wearables and more. The financial details of the transaction haven’t been disclosed yet.

With the advent rise of chatbot/assistant technology and the millenial attraction towards it, API.ai was launched in 2014 by a trio of co-founders, Ilya Gelfenbeyn, Artem Goncharuk, Pavel Sirotin. It was launched with the sole goal of making the monotonous text-only bots more Siri-like, by adding ‘intelligent’ voice experiences to it. This helped them differentiate themselves from other ‘so-called’ machine learning/AI startup, and help increase customer satisfaction and improve business processes.

Our vision has been to make technology understand and speak human language and help developers build truly intelligent conversational interfaces for their products and services.

says CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn in an official statement.

And the aim of the platform was not just to make the inteface conversational, but also more intelligent, and context aware. API.ai helped developers build bots that could differentiate between the humongous number of ambiguous meanings of a spoken dialogue, very much like a human being. Their APIs provided functionalities like speech recognition, intent recognition and context management and even allowed developers to provide domain-specific knowledge to their bots.

API.AI has a proven track record for helping developers design, build and continuously improve their conversational interfaces. Over 60,000 developers are using API.AI to build conversational experiences.

API.AI offers one of the leading conversational user interface platforms and they’ll help Google empower developers to continue building great natural language interfaces. Stay tuned for more details on integrations into Google.

says Scott Huffman, Google’s VP of Engineering.

Though Google hasn’t disclosed the technology integrations, but it could easily be moulded to work with the company’s speech recognition tools and APIs. It could also possibly be merged with the recently launched Cloud Natural Language API, which gives developers access to three Google-powered engines– sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and syntax analysis. This could make the API more robust and expressive for building chatbots from scratch.

In the two years of its operations, API.AI had managed to raise a staggering sum of around $8.6 million from investors including the likes of Alpine Technology Fund, Intel Capital, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, and SAIC Capital.

Commenting on the long-term partnership with Google and the future of API.ai, Gelfenbeyn says,

We’re excited for you to continue using our developer platform to build conversational user interfaces. Joining Google will allow us to accelerate improvements to the platform and service our growing developer community in ways we’ve always dreamed.

With Google’s knowledge, infrastructure and support, we can make sure you get access to the best available technologies and developments in AI and machine learning.