Although neither company is presently prepared to reveal what they have planned to develop, Facebook have praised Wit.ai’s ability to “turn speech and text into actionable data” and confirmed that the existing Wit.ai platform would remain.
Facebook confirmed the deal to the BBC, although neither firm disclosed details of a fee.
A spokesman did however state: “Wit.ai has built an incredible yet simple natural language processing API that has helped developers turn speech and text into actionable data. We’re excited to have them on board.”
What Could This Mean?
According to one analyst, the recent acquisition by Facebook could spark a move into voice messaging, or possibly even introduce the ability to voice control home appliances.
“If you have more than a billion users and you can connect them to multiple devices, that becomes a very powerful offering. Wit.ai also has the messenger agents and you could see those being incorporated into Facebook,” said Pamela Clark-Dickson of analyst firm Ovum.
She said that while the Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been struggling to get its own voice product to market, Facebook was unlikely to simply use Wit.ai to help out in that respect.
And she said she believed that the Facebook-Wit.ai offering, when it arrived, would be more than a Skype or Siri-like service for Facebook. “I believe it will add value,” she said.
Wit.ai, which has been described as “the Github, the Wikipedia, the Bitcoin of natural language” by founder Alex Lebrun said: “Facebook has the resources and talent to help us take the next step.”
In a statement, it said: “Facebook’s mission is to connect everyone and build amazing experiences for the over 1.3 billion people on the platform – technology that understands natural language is a big part of that, and we think we can help.”
It confirmed its own platform would “remain open and become entirely free for everyone”. It said: “Developers are the life of our project and the energy, enthusiasm and passion of the community has helped turn what was once just a lofty dream, into a reality.”
For more information on this story, please visit – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30697254