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Microsoft buys AI company to make Cortana sound more human

Microsoft has purchased an Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-up to help Cortana sound less robotic.

The technology giants released the virtual assistant for use on their devices including Windows 10, Windows Phones, and Xbox One four years ago in 2014, and it has now been revealed that they have bought out AI company Semantic Machines in order to help them upgrade the program's voice.

The decision comes after Google announced earlier this year that their digital assistant program was getting upgraded with more natural-sounding speech, which was shown to be so accurate that humans speaking on the phone to the program didn't know they were talking to a robot.

Microsoft are said to be looking to mimic that success with the help of Semantic Machines, as well as getting the AI company to help them with the Azure Bot Service that's used by 300,000 developers.

David Ku, chief technology officer of Microsoft AI & Research, said in a statement: "With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces."

The company added that it "[aims] to deliver powerful, natural and more productive user experiences that will take conversational computing to a new level."

Cortana was originally developed in 2014 with the help of 'Halo' developers 343 Industries on the eyelike visual elements and voice actress Jen Taylor for the voice itself.

Semantic Machines is led by UC Berkeley professor Dan Klein and former Apple chief speech scientist Larry Gillick, who are both considered pioneers in conversational AI.

As of the time of writing, it isn't known when Microsoft plans to roll out its new and improved software.

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