No, Google hasn’t acquired Groupon (yet). But it does have a smaller, though very interesting acquisition to announce: it’s just acquired Phonetic Arts, a company based in the UK that works on speech synthesis in games.
Phonetic Arts makes technology that can convert lines of recorded dialog into a ‘speech library’ — feed it a few hundred lines of recordings using your voice, and it can then piece together those sounds to generate new sentences that sound surprisingly realistic. Up until now the company has primarily been focused on using this technology for games, but Google intends to use it to make its own automated voices sound more fluid and human.
In case you haven’t noticed, Google has been paying a huge amount of attention to its voice recognition and transcription technologies over the last few years (they’ve been researching it for much longer, but now the tech is making it into products). YouTube now includes automatic voice transcription across millions of videos; Android has voice recognition built through the OS; and Google has other voice search apps for other platforms.