Amazon is buying Polish-based firm Ivona for an unknown amount, the company announced Thursday. Ivona is a multi-lingual digital speech company that has developed an eponymous text-to-speech translation system that already powers Amazon’s text-to-speech, “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” on Kindle Fire tablets.
The company’s digital speech system is powerful enough that in 2007 it received the highest Mean Opinion Score at the Blizzard Challenge–a scientific contest to assess how “real” a simulated voice is.
Amazon’s press release notes that Ivona’s team will continue to innovate and develop its voice systems inside Amazon. The intention is clearly to enhance the digital speech services offered through Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet–to rival its peers systems like Samsung’s S-Voice and Siri, which is one of Apple’s signature services on iPhones and iPads. Apple itself hired a former Amazon research exec in 2012 to further develop Siri, and has possibly (we have our questions) recently posted job openings to enhance Siri as a distinct personality.