Amazon acquires voice recognition firm, fueling Siri speculation

Everyone is wondering whether the online retailer is getting ready to produce a voice command service

Amazon appears to have quietly acquired Yap Inc., a speech recognition start-up company, fueling speculation that the online giant is getting ready to produce a voice command service such as Apple's Siri or Google's Voice Actions for Android.

Yap produced a voicemail transcription application for smartphones, but discontinued the service on Oct. 20. In September, Yap merged with Dion Acquisition Sub Inc., according to an SEC filing obtained by The Atlantic. The interesting thing about this acquisition is that Amazon and the surviving corporation from the Yap merger share one trait: they both have the same address, 410 Terry Avenue North, Seattle, Washington.

What could be Amazon’s next move?

Amazon might be using Yap's technology to build a speech recognition service for mobile devices, at least that's the theory anyway. With Apple's Siri capturing so much attention recently, speculation is centering around Amazon building a similar service for future devices. Amazon's purported acquisition may also be an attempt to create a speech-to-text engine used in search or dictation. Or the technology could end up as a research project with Amazon's lab126 that never sees the light of day.

Amazon is certainly getting more serious about mobile devices, so perhaps it's no surprise the company would want to develop its own voice recognition service. The company launched its Appstore for Android in March and the Kindle Fire media tablet in September, along with a revamped line of Kindle devices. There are also reports that Amazon may be working on an 8- or 10-inch tablet for release in 2012.

The Yap-Amazon link was first reported by the Charlotte-based CTL Blog.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul ) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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