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Facebook buys out Wit.ai

A start-up created by three French engineers 

On January 5th, Facebook announced the buy-out of the start-up Wit.ai. The company, specialised in voice recognition, has been created by three Frenchmen graduated from the best French engineering schools.  

When Zuckerberg takes an interest in three Frenchiewit.ai 

Making machines understand human language: this is the ambition of the founders of Wit.ai ("ai" for Artificial Intelligence), a company that interests Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg's group has announced earlier this year that it was buying the start-up launched only a year and a half ago by three Frenchmen in the Silicon Valley: Alexandre Lebrun, Willy Blandin and Laurent Landowski.

Voice recognition available to all developers 

But what is Wit.ai? Very simple. You are in your couch and you're a bit cold: just say it and heating will start. Both your hands are covered in flour and you're suddenly wondering whether you should add salt to your shortcrust: ask your phone to call your cook-friend. Such applications already exist. But they are bound by proprietary formats held by major brands.

The new aim of Wit.ai is to offer an open platform from which any developer may integrate a voice recognition interface in the program he's developing. Eventually, you won't need remote controller, keyboards or even screens: every object will be able to understand us.

Three engineers with one foot in each continent

The founders of Wit.ai have developed their project in the Silicon Valley, an environment particularly favourable to young entrepreneurs of the digital field. Wit.ai had first been integrated to the Y Combinator: this business incubator supports start-ups for several months before presenting them to investors.

But Alexandre Lebrun, Laurent Landowski and Willy Blandin also benefit from the training they followed in the best engineering schools in France: Polytechnique, Centrale Lille and the Sorbonne. They're aware of their luck: in November, in an interview published on his former school's website, Alexandre Lebrun praised the French engineers' skills, which he deems "much better in overall than in the Silicon Valley".