Facebook has acquired Mobile Technologies, the 12 year old company behind Jibbigo, a speech recognition and machine translation app. The app is the first to offer speech to speech translation in both offline and online environments. It enables users to text or record voice content in over 25 languages that is then translated on screen or read aloud in another language.
“It has always been our mission to make the world more open and connected. Although more than a billion people around the world already use Facebook every month, we are always looking for ways to help connect the rest of the world as well,” Facebook’s Director of Product Management Tom Stocky explained in a Facebook status update announcing the deal. “Voice technology has become an increasingly important way for people to navigate mobile devices and the web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution. We believe this acquisition is an investment in our long-term product roadmap as we continue towards our company’s mission.”
Stocky pointed to the acqui-hire intent of the acquisition, stating “With this deal we will welcome some of the industry’s most talented people to our engineering teams in Menlo Park, California.” Facebook has indicated it will continue to support the Jibbigo app for the time being.
Considering Facebook’s international social audience, it is easy to understand why it would want to boost its speech translation abilities with an in-house approach. The social network had relied on translation services through Microsoft’s Bing. Owning its own translator services gives it better leverage in making translation a core focus of its platform as it pursues its mission to make the world more connected.
“Facebook, with its mission to make the world more open and connected, provides the perfect platform to apply our technology at a truly global scale,” the Mobile Technologies team said in a statement on Jibbigo’s blog. “We look forward to continuing to develop our technology at Facebook and finding new and interesting ways to apply it to Facebook’s long-term product roadmap.”
Mobile Technologies will join Facebook at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.