Sonos acquires privacy-conscious AI startup Snips for $37.5 million

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Audio company Sonos today announced the acquisition of Snips, a privacy-conscious conversational AI company based in Paris. The $37.5 million acquisition will bring machine learning engineers and others from Snips, a company with about 50 employees, into Sonos.

Snips is the creator of open source conversational AI projects that have been used by more than 30,000 developers, such as Snips-NLU. Snips also open-sourced Tract, for embedding AI assistants in devices, earlier this year.

Snips is also the maker of Snips Air, a smart speaker introduced last year with an AI assistant that runs locally on devices without the need for an internet connection to complete tasks. Snips made its focus on privacy a way to differentiate itself from popular assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, which require an internet connection and routinely collect voice recordings and data.

As part of the deal, Sonos will make the Snips assistant available alongside Alexa and Google Assistant, according to a release.

“I am extremely proud of the team and the work we have accomplished over the last five years,” Snips CEO Rand Hindi said in a statement. “The technology we have created has been validated by one of the leaders in consumer electronics. I am thrilled that, joining an international company, Snips will continue its operations in France, helping French technologies succeed at an international level.”

The acquisition closed November 14, according to the release.

VentureBeat reached out to Snips and Sonos for additional details on the future of Snips hardware and when Sonos will bring the embedded Snips assistant to its smart speakers. This story will be updated if we hear back.

An embedded AI assistant could help Sonos improve portable speakers like the Sonos Move, which made its debut in September.

This fall, Google Nest introduced the Nest Mini smart speaker, which also utilizes on-device machine learning to speed responses and store top voice commands on devices.

More to come

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