Technology giant Microsoft has acquired a messaging-app developer founded by an Indian as the US-based software firm aims to strengthen its position in the emerging era of combining the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence.
Microsoft acquired California-based Wand Labs, a start-up which builds messaging technology for apps, founded in 2013 by IIT-Delhi alumnus Vishal Sharma who was previously the vice president, products at Google.
The terms of the acquisition were not made public.
“This acquisition accelerates our vision and strategy for ‘Conversation as a Platform’ which (India-born CEO of Microsoft) Satya Nadella introduced at our Build 2016 conference,” Corporate Vice President, Information Platform Group at Microsoft David Ku said in a statement yesterday.
During the Build conference in March, Nadella told thousands of developers that he envisages a technological future where computer software can learn the human language and have natural conversations with people.
Nadella had said that Microsoft wants to take the power of human language and apply it more pervasively to all of the computing interface and interactions.
Ku said Wand Labs’ technology and talent would strengthen Microsoft’s position in the “emerging era of conversational intelligence where we bring together the power of human language with advanced machine intelligence, connecting people to knowledge, information, services and other people in more relevant and natural ways”.
The acquisition builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft’s search engine Bing, its cloud computing platform Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.
Ku said Wand’s expertise around services mapping, third-party developer integration and conversational interfaces makes it a “great fit” to join the Bing engineering and platform team.
Describing Sharma as an “experienced leader and entrepreneur” in the field of search and knowledge, Ku said the Wand team will make significant contributions to Microsoft’s innovation of Bing intelligence.
Sharma said it is an “exciting time” to be working in the area of semantics and conversation, an area that Nadella has highlighted as core to the future.
“Making experiences for customers more seamless by harnessing human language is a powerful vision and one that motivates me and my team,” Sharma said, adding that Wand’s experience with semantics and messaging are a “natural fit” for the work already underway at Microsoft, especially in the area of intelligent agents and cognitive services.