Google announced today that it has purchased Phonetic Arts, makers of automatic speech-generation middleware used by a number of video game companies.
The Cambridge, England-based company, founded in 2006, creates speech synthesis tools that convert digital text into spoken words without the need for voice actor recordings.
The company's tools also allow for automated lip-syncing with in-game models and splicing together new lines of dialogue from existing recordings.
Game companies including Bethesda, EA Sports, BioWare, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sega, DICE and Ninja Theory, among others, are listed as Phonetic Arts customers on the company's web page.
But a Google blog post
on the announcement suggests the search giant's interest in the company seems to be more tilted towards creating Star Trek-like computer interfaces, where a person speaks to a computer and the computer speaks back in a natural, human-sounding voice.
Google already uses speech synthesis technology to speak (sometimes hilarious
) results from Google Translate and give turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps.
Google has been dipping its toes into the game industry waters of late, investing $100 million
in social game giant Zynga and acquiring
mobile game developer Slide, among others.
The company has been long-rumored
to be developing a Google Games platform to compete with Facebook's highly successful social games.