Amazon on Thursday announced it is buying Ivona, a firm specializing in text-to-speech technology.
The Poland-based Ivona's technology verbalizes written text messages. Amazon has been using Ivona's technology for its Kindle e-readers since 2009. Ivona also supplies "Explore By Touch" and "Voice Guide" navigation for Kindle Fire models. Explore By Touch gives readers an auditory cue when they swipe their fingers across the Kindle Fire's menu (for instance, the title of a book would be read aloud if it was swiped.) In Voice Guide, any action the customer performs on the device is read aloud. In Amazon's example, when you open a new book, it would say "The Hunger Games. Book opened." Both features are aimed at vision-impaired customers.
While the technology appears to be the exact opposite of Apple's Siri, Amazon's purchase might signal increased hands-free features that could be employed on a rumored Amazon phone.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.