Cambridge start-up Audio Analytic bought by Facebook owner Meta

The company’s website claims its technology can give machines the “most accurate, robust and compact sense of hearing on the planet”.

Uses could include smart home devices that can detect a break-in or an alarm going off, or smartphones that can adapt to noisy environments.

Audio Analytic previously raised $25m from investors including National Grid Partners, IQ Capital and Cambridge Innovation Capital. It employed around 50 people, according to its latest accounts. Its technology was included in gadgets such as British Gas’ Hive smart home range and it has worked with chip company Qualcomm to develop technology for smartphones.

Several Cambridge audio start-ups have been snapped up by Big Tech companies in recent years. In 2012, Amazon acquired Evi, a start-up that developed the voice assistant technology that became part of Amazon’s Alexa. Apple acquired speech recognition company VocalIQ, as well as imaging start-up Spectral Edge.

The Audio Analytic takeover comes weeks after the tech giant had a takeover blocked in a landmark intervention by Britain’s competition watchdog.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority last month blocked Meta’s acquisition of file-sharing start-up Giphy, a $315m deal. It was the first time the CMA has forced a Big Tech company to unwind a takeover.

In the US, regulators are also seeking to block Meta’s takeover of virtual reality app company Within.

A Meta spokesperson said: “We’re excited that members of the Audio Analytic team have joined Meta Reality Labs Research. The partnership with Audio Analytic will help our research team better understand intelligent sound recognition.”

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