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Nortek Brands To Get A Voice Through Nuiku Acquisition

Nortek, the supplier of residential and commercial control and HVAC systems, made its second acquisition in as many months, this time purchasing a company that developed a natural-language processing platform for voice control.

Nortek purchased 100 percent of Redmond, Wash.-based Nuiku, and it might not be Nortek’s last acquisition. Nortek created a technology-incubation team to acquire or internally develop emerging technologies that can be quickly adopted by multiple Nortek brands. The team will initially focus on the connected home and personal safety and will leverage technology from Nuiku and from home-automation platform provider MiOS, in which Nortek purchased a 25 percent stake.

The MiOS purchase was announced last month. Terms of the Nuiku acquisition were not disclosed.

Sign language: The Nuiku acquisition is the latest sign that natural-language voice control is growing more important in the home automation and CE markets. Startup J Star, for example, start-up J Star plans summertime availability of a $10,000 home-control system incorporating a voice OS and artificial intelligence to control home systems with natural-language voice commands. Google unveiled plans to offer an Amazon Echo-like speaker and digital assistant with natural-language voice control of home systems, D+M Group announced plans to integrate voice into its products, and Sonos announced plans recently to redirect resources to add voice control to its wireless multiroom-audio products.

See how voice control will affect the home control and CE markets:
What The Future Of Smart-Home Voice Control Looks Like
The Near Future Of Voice Control

For its part, Nortek said Nuiku’s technology consists of a “data-driven platform and cloud based application program interface (API) that enables seamless natural language processing (NLP) across applications and devices.” The patented technology adapts to user behavior and prompts, reminds and suggests actions to consumers “based on frequency of use and historical actions,” Nortek said.

The acquisition, added Nortek president/CEO Michael J. Clarke, “adds key software capabilities to our portfolio of technology solutions as well as seasoned engineers that are aligned with our focus of driving innovation across our businesses.” The acquisition “will result in new, innovative combinations of our products that advance our position in the markets we serve.”

As for the new technology incubation team, he said it will initially focus on connected-home and personal-safety markets through Nortek’s 2GIG, NuTone and Elan brands, but longer term, “we expect the incubator to qualify, test and bring to market specific product innovations on behalf of all Nortek businesses.”

With the recent MiOS acquisition, Elan home-control systems have been upgraded to support MiOS’s VeraEdge bridge, which enables the Elan systems to control select third-party Z-Wave devices.

Brands marketed by Nortek’s Core Brands group include Elan, Niles, Proficient, SpeakerCraft, Sunfire and Xantech. Nortek Security & Control brands include the Linear brand of security, access control, video surveillance equipment, 2GIG home-security systems and GoControl DIY home-control systems.