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Seeking To Expand Beyond Languages, Rosetta Stone Looks To Brain Training

Rosetta Stone's CEO and President says "there's significant overlap between language learners and consumers of brain fitness."

[Image: Flickr user Brett Weinstein]

Rosetta Stone has been trying to move beyond its traditional language learning scope this year, and the latest example of this is its purchase of Vivity Labs Inc. for $12 million.

Vivity makes the Fit Brains Trainer app and a variety of similar products. The app is, according to the press release "one of the highest grossing brain training apps available through Apple’s iTunes App Store."

Vivity is the company's fourth acquisition this year. Others include a business-to-business language company in France, and an online language learning community called Livemocha.

On the surface, there would seem to be no synergy between the Rosetta Stone and Vivity. But speaking exclusively to Fast Company, Rosetta Stone's CEO and president Steve Swad explained the move:

Rosetta Stone is continuing to extend beyond language, and entering an exciting new growing market, one where there's significant overlap between language learners and consumers of brain fitness.

Michael Cole, Founder and CEO of Vivity Labs, explained that his company has "had a tremendous year in terms of mobile, with over five million users" and is excited about "going international," which is something Rosetta can help with. He also suggested that "there's a great overlap just in terms of brain health" and languages, and he "often tells people to study a second or third language" because of the mental benefits.

Brain training, while big business, is a controversial subject. "I think the research [into the benefits for mental agility] is a little more mature around language learning and it is developing around brain fitness," Swad said. Cole explained that he doesn't see the company as a "magic bullet," but as a "piece in the puzzle" of improving mental fitness.