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Apple buys Hello Barbie voice tech firm PullString for $30m

SIRI MIGHT SOON SPOUT teen-esque BFF phrases, as Apple has bought the firm behind the smart voice tech that powers Mattel’s Hello Barbie interactive doll.

Axios reports that Cupertino has bought PullString, the firm behind the AI platform that allows Hello Barbie to ‘talk’ with humans, for some $30m with a promised $10m in ‘earnout’ potential for the firm’s top brass.

PullString’s software platform, which also powers an interactive Thomas the Tank Engine toy, has been designed to make it relatively easy for toy makers to put voice interaction tech into their products and apps.

There’s no real idea as to why Tim Cook’s crew has splashed out a substantial sum for PullString, given Apple tends to make expensive, sleekly designed tech that doesn’t really fit into the toy world, though we appreciate that if you show a kid an iPad it will go nuts for it.

Then again, Siri isn’t exactly the smartest voice assistant around, certainly not when compared to the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. So there’s scope for PullString’s tech to help make Siri a bit less of a dunce when compared to its rivals.

Better voice interaction in things like Apple’s HomePod wouldn’t go amiss given how well we’ve seen the Google Assistant put to use in things like Google’s Home Hub.

Really, the whole thing is open to speculation given Apple never really sheds any light on what it’s up to when it comes to acquisitions other than knocking out a standard statement of saying it buys companies from time to time… yawn.

But we would be rather surprised to see if Apple kicks out a load of Siri-powered toys. Though Cupertino does love the idea of educating kids, so perhaps a combination of Siri enhanced by PullString’s tech and plonked into a school education app might be a possible direction Apple might go with PullString. However, this is just idle speculation, so who the heck outside of Cupertino knows what Apple will do with the tech. µ

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Source : Inquirer

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