Google said Wednesday that it has bought a Canadian startup specializing in getting machines to understand what people are trying to say.
The Internet titan did not disclose how much it paid for DNNresearch, which was founded last year by University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and graduate students Ilya Sutskever and Alex Krizhevsky.
The university said that Hinton is renowned for machine learning work with "profound implications" for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.
"Together with two of my recent graduate students, I am betting on Google's team to be the epicenter of future breakthroughs," Hinton said in a post at Google+ social network.
"That means we'll soon be joining Google to work with some of the smartest engineering minds to tackle some of the biggest challenges in computer science."
Google did not specify where it intends to focus the DNNresearch team but the company has a clear interest in tuning its search engine to a world in which people speak queries into smartphones or use snapped pictures as search terms.
For example, a machine would need to understand that a spoken search for "laptops running Windows" refers to devices powered by computers powered by Microsoft software and not odd a seemingly impossible physical activity.
Hinton said he will continue to teach part-time at the University of Toronto while working at California-based Google to "see what we can do with very large-scale computation."
Sutskever and Krizhevsky were to join the team at Google's campus in Silicon Valley.