Samsung’s latest acquisition could give Bixby its voice

The digital assistant may have got a new language coach.

Despite unveiling Bixby in March, Samsung's digital assistant remains an elusive beast. An ETA was predicted for June, but we're now in the throes of summer and Bixby is still in hiding. However, the Korean manufacturer's latest acquisition sounds like it's tailor-made for the voice assistant -- and any other Bixby-powered devices it may have in the pipeline.

Samsung has quietly snapped up Innoetics, a Greek text-to-speech startup. Among Innoetics' software is a voice-to-speech system that can pick up a speaking voice and then mimic it to recite a completely different text. The startup's library of 29 synthetic voices in 15 languages (including Hindi and German) should come in handy for Bixby's inevitable global rollout. In particular, Samsung will be eyeing Innoetics' "English US" voice program, a crucial vernacular that the company is still busy tinkering with.

Until now, Innoetics has mainly been gearing its tech APIs toward the B2B market, including telcos. Financial details are hard to come by, but TechCrunch estimates the deal at below $50 million. Samsung will reportedly retain Innoetics' small team of employees, while the startup's website says that it is discontinuing both its commercial and B2B services. This should free it up to devote its time to Samsung's products instead.