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Intel buys Siri rival Ginger Software for $30m

Gingers have more fun
Fri May 09 2014, 15:48
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INTEL HAS BECOME the latest company to dip its toe into personal digital assistant (PDA) software.

The chipmaker has bought Israeli software company Ginger Software for a figure believed to be $30m, in order to bolster its artifical intelligence efforts. The company's rumoured Jarvis Headset is said to be capable of providing personal assistant functionality without an internet connection.

Hebrew technology website Calcalist revealed the move before Techcrunch received confirmation on Thursday.

Under the terms of the deal, 16 staff will move to Intel to work on the PDA, while the remaining 40 will stay in a separately run division of Ginger Software, specialising in intelligent spelling and grammar correction software.

Intel has joined a growth area for the technology market. When Apple announced Siri, it seemed like a frivolous excursion into science fiction, but with the arrival of Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana, along with several third party versions, the concept of a personal assistant in the pocket has gone mainstream.

What will prove interesting is how much control Intel will give to the end user once Ginger Software, should that be its eventual name, is made public. Proprietary personal assistants are a lucrative asset for the companies involved and third party access has been a closely managed operation.

Cortana has begun to break this mould by offering plug-ins with other apps from launch, but if Intel can create an open ecosystem where developers are able to incorporate their wares into the personal assistant environment, it has a chance of superceding whatever solution comes preinstalled on the device. µ


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