Microsoft acquires Nuance—makers of Dragon speech rec—for $16 billion

A man with his sleeves rolled up speaks into a headset while staring at a laptop.

Enlarge / In this 2011 photo, Dr. Michael A. Lee uses Dragon Medical voice-recognition software to enter his notes after seeing a patient. (credit: David Ryan via Getty Images)

In this 2006 photo, Rollie Berg—who has extremely limited use of his hands due to multiple sclerosis—uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 to interact directly with his PC.

In this 2006 photo, Rollie Berg—who has extremely limited use of his hands due to multiple sclerosis—uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 to interact directly with his PC. (credit: Joey McLeister via Getty Images)

Nuance is a well-known player in the field of natural language recognition. The company’s technology is the core of Apple’s Siri personal assistant. Nuance also sells well-known personal speech-recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is invaluable to many people with a wide range of physical disabilities.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking, originally released in 1997, was one of the first commercially available continuous dictation products—meaning software that did not require the user to pause briefly between words. In 2000, Dragon Systems was acquired by ScanSoft, which acquired Nuance Communications in 2005 and rebranded itself as Nuance.

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