Microsoft purchases Tellme Networks

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft will beef up and add to its repertoire of voice-driven services, thanks to a newly minted deal to acquire Tellme Networks.

Privately held Tellme was founded in 1999, and began as a toll-free phone number that assists callers by recognizing voice commands. For example, by saying the word "stock quotes", an automated voice will reply with the latest market updates. It has since brought similar portals to cell phone text messaging and as a mobile application.

Microsoft wants to boost the scope of Tellme and integrate the technology with its Live Search platform and, in the future, add interoperability to Microsoft Office and Windows Vista.

"Tellme brings to Microsoft the talent, technology and proven experience in speech that will enable us to deliver a new wave of products and revolutionize human-computer interaction," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The news comes during the same week as the Computer/Human Interaction (CHI) Conference, where Microsoft is talking about several new technologies that would make the relationship between human and computer more seamless.

Financial details of the acquisition remain confidential. Tellme will continue to operate normally from its Mountain View, CA headquarters.

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