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Now we're talking: Amazon buys text-to-speech provider Ivona

The Internet retailer uses Ivona's technology for text-to-speech, voice guide, and explore-by-touch features on the Kindle Fire tablets.

Amazon has acquired text-to-speech technology provider Ivona Software for an undisclosed amount, broadening its in-house capabilities as the Internet retailer continues to push its tablet business.

The two companies have collaborated in the past, Amazon noted, with Ivona's technology powering the text-to-speech, voice guide, and explore-by-touch features on Kindle Fire tablets.

In addition, Poland-based Ivona delivers text-to-speech products and services to thousands of developers, businesses, and customers around the world. It offers voice and language portfolios with 44 voices in 17 languages, and it's developing even more.

Amazon has been expanding its tablet business to take on companies such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, and even Google, whose Android software it uses. Unlike some of its rivals, Amazon has kept the prices of its hardware low in order to attract more buyers. While it makes little, if any, money on its devices, it generates cash on services and other ancillary items, like selling digital books.

Voice recognition, meanwhile, has become a bigger feature in many devices. As CNET has noted before, voice assistants like Apple's Siri, Samsung's S Voice, Google Actions, and Microsoft's TellMe aren't new, but they are evolving into more mainstream features that can expedite results. Amazon likely expects Ivona to help it challenge the offers from other tablet makers, as well as possibly develop a smartphone.

CNET has contacted Amazon and will update the story when we hear back.