Nuance Stories April 12

Siri backend creator Nuance acquired by Microsoft in $19.7 billion deal

Microsoft has announced today that it is acquiring Nuance Communications, the company that originally built Siri’s backend. With the $19.7 billion deal, Microsoft is looking to advance its AI and cloud capabilities in the healthcare industry – what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls “the most urgent application.”

Nuance Stories April 20, 2016

siri

Apple has agreed to pay $24.9M to settle a long-running lawsuit alleging that Siri violated a patent owned by a New York institute and exclusively licensed to a company in Dallas. The patent predates the launch of Siri by four years.

The Albany Business Review notes that Apple was sued not by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which holds the patent, but by Dallas-based Dynamic Advances, which licensed it. The company reportedly receives $5M now, and the balance after meeting unspecified conditions. In return, Apple gets a license to use the patented technology for three years.

The settlement means that the patent trial, due to take place in New York next month, will no longer proceed. However, that may not be the end of it …

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Nuance Stories February 19, 2016

hsbc

HSBC has told the BBC that it is going all-in on biometric security, replacing both passwords and memorable questions with a combination of Touch ID and voice-recognition. The bank says that the option will be offered first to customers of its UK branchless subsidiary First Direct before rolling out to 15 million HSBC customers.

First Direct’s customers will be offered the voice and fingerprint recognition system over the next few weeks, followed by HSBC’s in the summer.

Francesca McDonagh, HSBC UK’s head of retail banking and wealth management, said: “The launch of voice and touch ID makes it even quicker and easier for customers to access their bank account, using the most secure form of password technology – the body.”

The hi-tech security approach is heavy on Apple tech …

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Nuance Stories December 3, 2015

Nuance releases new Dragon Anywhere app on iOS w/ continuous cloud-based dictation

Earlier this year, popular speech recognition company Nuance announced that it was launching a new iOS app with a plethora of new voice recognition. We covered the new app in detail in August, but now, Nuance’s Dragon Anywhere app is available on the App Store.

Dragon Anywhere on iOS offers incredibly accurate dictation, all based in the cloud. Nuance touts that the app allows for full documents to be composed on the go, all with your voice, and subsequently shared via services like Dropbox and Evernote.

With the required cloud-based subscriptions, your transcriptions are constantly syncing to the cloud and are always update to date on all of your devices. There’s no time limit on dictation and users can talk uninterrupted throughout the process.

One of the new features of the app is auto-text. This is essentially pre-set document formats. Nuance has demonstrated this with corporations especially. For instance, an insurance company could share a text setup of a claim form with all of their employees. Then, employees could seamlessly dictate the claim into the pre-developed form without having to take anytime to format the document itself.

Dragon Anywhere is available now on the App Store. There’s a one week free trial, after which you’ll need to register for a subscription. Subscriptions range from $15/month to $150/year. The app currently supports US English, although it will be updated “later this year” with UK English and German support.

Nuance Stories August 18, 2015

Nuance, the voice recognition and productivity software company behind the iOS keyboard’s Dictation feature, today has revealed a series of updates to its applications and a new cloud-based synchronization service at the core. Nuance provided us with a demonstration last week of the new iOS and Mac apps, and we came away impressed with the accuracy, speed, and capabilities of the upgraded platform.

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Nuance Stories June 30, 2014

Nuance, the company that originally created the backend for the Siri mobile app that would later become the built-in virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S, has powered the speech recognition for the service ever since it launched. However, a new report suggests Apple may be looking to replace the company’s technology with a newer, faster system that could provide more accurate results.

A new Wired report cites several recent Siri-related Apple hires as evidence that the company is working on something big for the system’s next update. This isn’t really a new idea: rumors have been swirling since 2011 that Apple was investigating its own speech-to-text solution. That same year, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky (not to be confused with current Siri Speech Manager David Winarsky) told 9to5Mac:

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Nuance Stories June 16, 2014

Domino’s Pizza launches voice ordering in mobile apps powered by Nuance

Dominos announced today that its launching a new voice ordering feature in its iPhone and Android apps that is powered by Nuance’s Nina Mobile voice speech recognition, speech synthesis and natural language understanding technology. The company says the feature will provide “a human-like, conversational customer service experience that allows users to speak an order and quickly add items to their cart.” Imagine opening the app and placing your order by saying, for example, “I’d like a large pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni and onions” or “I’ll take a 14-piece order of Hot Wings”.

“There will be a day where typing on keyboards or with thumbs on mobile devices will come to a close; we want to be the ones who continue to advance the technology experience – hand-in-hand with our customers,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza president and CEO. “Our mobile app users who are a part of this launch are truly helping set the foundation for the innovations of today, that will soon enough become the standards of tomorrow.”

The platform, in partnership with Nuance, will redefine technology convenience – and puts Domino’s at the forefront of an intuitive ordering method that is a true first within both traditional and e-commerce retail.

With the updated app rolling out today, you’ll also be able to browse menus, coupons and navigate through the app using your voice. The feature rolls out in beta today and is available in the updated Domino’s Pizza app for iOS now.

Nuance Stories March 29, 2014

Dragon-Dictate-4-01

Using our voice to control computers has never really taken off. For many of us, using voice recognition technology wasn’t even a consideration until features like dictation and Siri arrived on our iPhones and iPads. There’s good reason too: the voice recognition features built into our devices have always had the reputation of being half-baked. They simply aren’t accurate and consistent enough to replace our tried and trusted mouse and keyboard or touchscreen. While half decent dictation features come with every Mac (and are powered by Nuance’s technology), the voice recognition features you get with latest version of Nuance’s Dragon Dictate for Mac go well beyond simply dictating speech to text.  expand full story

Nuance Stories October 10, 2013

Review: Popular translator app iTranslate gets reimagined for iOS 7

The popular language translation app iTranslate has been completely reimagined for iOS 7. Just like iOS 7, the app is heavily gesture-based. Because the new version features so many new gestures, a tutorial has been added that walks users through all of the new ways to interact with their translations.

At first glance, iTranslate does not feel as intuitive or as easy to use as the previous version. It takes a while to get acclimated to the changes, and to understand how to properly trigger the gestures, which can be a bit difficult at first. For example, when swiping, you have to swipe to the point where you will see the grey color transition to blue (for a shorter swipe), or purple (for a longer swipe) before the appropriate action will be triggered.

After going through the tutorial, the default languages are set to American English, and Spanish. Tapping on either English or Spanish pulls up the keyboard and you can type the text you want translated.

iTranslate supports text-to-speech, so that you can hear how the translation sounds. You can activate this feature using a swipe gesture. The user can choose from male and female versions of several dialects and adjust the speaking rate. Just tap on the countries’ flag to access the voice options and switch between languages.

iTranslate is available for free in the App Store for new and existing users. There is an in-app purchase for $4.99 that unlocks several premium features, which include removal of the ads at the bottom of the screen, voice recognition, and romanization (the option to convert other writing systems into Roman characters;  an example of this would be converting 你好 into Nǐ hǎo). Voice recognition is powered by Nuance and automatically recognizes forty different languages and dialects regardless of which languages the text input is set to.

iTranslate is a very powerful tool, and I would recommend it for those who are traveling overseas or simply as a supplemental tool for learning a new language.

Nuance Stories July 26, 2013

Apple’s secretive Boston office working on Siri’s speech recognition; perhaps a Nuance replacement?

For a few months, Apple has maintained a secretive office near the MIT campus. Now, Xconomy reports the company has been hiring notable speech recognition talent to use the location as a speech recognition research office.

Apple has assembled a small team of notable names in speech technology and is looking to expand those efforts in the Boston area, industry sources tell Xconomy.

Based on their online job profiles, we can say that members of the Apple speech team here are working on Siri, the company’s voice-activated virtual assistant. Details beyond that are hard to come by, however, even for others in the field.

Many companies build small liaison offices near suppliers of products and technology to help in cross-collaborative work…

Nuance Stories April 26, 2013

Swype-keyboard-iOS-nuanceWe reported earlier this week over on our sister site 9to5Google that the extremely popular Swype keyboard was now available for Android users on Google Play. Unfortunately its arrival came after the implementation of the similar Gesture Typing feature that Google introduced in Jelly Bean. While we know Swype owner Nuance has a pretty tight relationship with Apple through its voice recognition technology being used in Siri (although Siri’s co-founder told us Apple could “likely replace Nuance without too much trouble”), a Swype exec has now confirmed the company has had talks with Apple over its revolutionary keyboard tech.

iFans points us to a Reddit AMA with Swype Vice President Aaron Sheedy where the executive confirms discussions with Apple have taken place: expand full story

Nuance Stories April 1, 2013

If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.

Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:

Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.

In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs… expand full story

Nuance Stories March 27, 2013

Siri promo video (text message reply 001)AFP reported Apple is in court in Shanghai, China again today, but this time it’s over a lawsuit alleging the company copied components of Siri’s speech recognition software. According to the report, Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology Co. claimed in pretrial proceedings that Apple infringed its patent related to voice recognition technology via Siri. While the suit notes that development of Siri began in 2007, there is no mention of Nuance. Apple currently partners Nuance with to implement the speech recognition component in Siri, and it is also a market leader that presumably has its own arsenal of speech recognition related patents.

Zhizhen says it patented its “Xiao i Robot” software in 2004, while Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.

“The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple’s infringement is confirmed,” Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP.

“We don’t exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future,” he added.

The company is behind Siri-like software called ‘Xiao i Robot’ that it claimed was first developed before Siri in 2004. The technology is apparently available on some smart TVs and enterprise applications, but it doesn’t appear to be available as a consumer-facing app for smartphones or tablets. The video below appeared online when the company originally filed suit against Apple last year, and it shows the Xiao i Robot software running on a Lenovo smartphone:

Nuance Stories July 27, 2012

Today’s noteworthy apps and updates list kicks off with the recently released iPad version of iTranslate Voice. As always, we will update the list throughout the day as more apps hit the store…

iTranslate Voice HD: iTranslate Voice is a great new iPad app, as it is one of the most unique pieces of word translation software on the market. Instead of typing words into an app, you talk in your language, and then the app will respond in the language of your choice. The entire thing is powered by Nuance—the same company that powers Apple’s Dictation on the iPhone 4S, new iPad, and Mountain Lion computers. So you know it is reliable. We have used the app for a while, and it is super helpful and easy to use. For those who are not a fan of voice, text-based translations are available. Thirty-one languages work in the app in addition to word defining. Sharing is also present. We highly recommend this iPad app. An iPhone version has also been available for some time, and it recently received a big update with new gestures and languages.

Twittelator Neue version 2.1:The popular iPhone twitter client Twittelator Neue and Twittelator Free were both updated today with the following new features and improvements:

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Nuance Stories May 31, 2012

Nuance releases Dragon Express Mac app in 7 additional countries, 3 new languages

Nuance announced it is releasing the Dragon Express Mac App Store app today to seven new countries in three new languages. Originally released last year, the app is now available in the following countries for around $50:

Dragon Express 1.1 now supports the French language in Canada, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, the German language in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and the Italian language in Italy.

AustriaBelgiumFranceGermanyItalyLuxembourgSwitzerland (French)Switzerland (German)

According to iPhonehellas [translated], Nuance also held a press event today in Greece to announce the availability of Dragon Dictation for June 6.

The full press release from Nuance is below:

Nuance’s Dragon Express for Mac OS App Store Now Available in French, German and Italian Languages

BURLINGTON, Mass., – May 31, 2012 – Nuance Communications, Inc., (NASDAQ: NUAN) today announced that its Dragon Express App, an introductory voice recognition app for Mac OS X Lion, has debuted in seven additional countries, supporting three additional languages. Dragon Express 1.1 now supports the French language in Canada, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, the German language in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and the Italian language in Italy. Available exclusively for download from Apple’s Mac App Store, Dragon Express is an easy and fun way to put words to work without the hassle of typing, allowing users to do more in less time.

Released in late 2011, Dragon Express quickly rose to the top of the charts in the Mac App Store. It’s a fast, hands-free way to quickly turn speech into text, whether sending email, surfing the Web or posting an update to Facebook and Twitter. Dragon Express is priced to provide people with an opportunity to experience the power and performance of speech recognition.

“The excitement for Dragon Express has been overwhelming, and we’ve heard our customers’ requests for additional language support,” said Peter Mahoney, chief marketing officer, senior vice president and general manager, Dragon, Nuance Communications. “We know that people around the world are embracing speech as a useful and fun interface, and we’re excited to bring the Dragon Express app to a broader worldwide audience.”

Dragon Express can be conveniently accessed from the menu bar at any time and doesn’t require a network connection. Users dictate directly into the Dragon Express window, using the internal Mac microphone or a USB headset microphone (which can be purchased via http://www.nuance.com), and the text instantly appears in the Dragon Express window. When finished, Dragon Express places the transcribed text into the application of choice. The download comes with a short enrollment so that the app can better recognize a user’s unique voice.

Dragon Dictate, the most full-featured and advanced speech recognition software for Mac OS, was recently updated to version 2.5. Dragon Dictate 2.5 includes many features beyond those in Dragon Express. These features include the ability to dictate directly into applications, edit, format and correct recognition errors by voice, open and close applications by voice, control the mouse by voice, create custom voice commands and support for the Dragon Remote Mic app for iPhone.

Nuance Stories May 25, 2012

The Verge recently went hands on with Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S III launched earlier this month and during its review put the device’s new Vlingo-powered “S-Voice” feature up against Siri on the iPhone 4S. Other than the striking resemblance to Siri’s UI and canned responses, the first thing we notice is Siri appears to be much quicker than S-Voice running on the Galaxy S III.

When asked “Who is the president of France”, Siri quickly asks to search the web, while S-Voice takes a little longer but comes up with the correct answer. However, in most scenarios, both Siri and S-Voice request to search the web for the majority of the same queries. You’ll also notice S-Voice has no problem keeping up with Siri when scheduling appointments, but both have some of the same issues understanding The Verge’s commands.

S Voice consistently chews up my words when I try asking it questions, although it works better when instructed to schedule an appointment or set an alarm. It can also be used as an unlocking mechanism once you pre-record a pass phrase. That adds to the face unlocking option that’s native to Android 4.0 in being frustratingly unwieldy and planted firmly within gimmick territory — more than once I was stuck repeating “hello” without any recognition from the phone.

While we don’t have all of the info on S-Voice, we know it is using voice recognition technology from Vlingo, the same as the previous Voice Commander feature for the Galaxy S II. Last December Nuance acquired Vlingo. It’s no secret Apple is currently using Nuance to power speech in Siri, and Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky told us in October that Siri originally used Vlingo, but that Nuance has by far the most IP in speech synthesis technologies”. However, he also noted Apple could likely easily replace Nuance if something better was available. expand full story

Nuance Stories April 20, 2012

Since the introduction of Nuance speech technology in OS X Lion, which provides several new voice options in system preferences for the System Voice, many have compared the voice of Nuance-powered Siri on iPhone 4S to the improved text-to-speech included as free downloads within Lion. As noted by Reddit user Moosehadley, what you might not have realized is the downloadable “Samantha” voice for Lion is the same as Siri’s in the United States. Here is how to download it:

Open System Preferences> Speech> Text to Speech>System Voice> Customize> and select “Samantha” from the list. Apple will ask you to confirm the 469MB install.

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Nuance Stories January 23, 2012

We have seen Siri clones in the Android Market trying to pass themselves off as the real thing, and some Siri alternatives making their way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Evi, on the other hand, might actually be the first true Siri competitor/alternative for Android and non-iPhone 4S iOS users.

Available on the App Store for 99 cents and free to Android users on the Android Market, Evi is the work of True Knowledge and its “core semantic search technology” better known as The True Knowledge Answer Engine. The 99-cent price tag on iOS is apparently to cover the cost of using Nuance voice recognition (the same voice recognition tech as Siri), which is not used in the Android version.

The app’s iTunes page explained Evi is capable of returning local data for the United Kingdom (along with the United States), which has been a complaint from U.K. Siri users since the iPhone 4S launch. According to TechCrunch, the app uses “an ontology of tens of thousands of classes into which” every possible user command can be recognized. True Knowledge said the app contains “almost a billion ‘facts’ (machine understandable bits of knowledge)” with the ability to infer trillions if necessary. It also reportedly uses all the expected sources, such as local results from Yelp, third-party websites, traditional web searches, and APIs.

While as of yet Evi is incapable of integrating with Calendar and Reminders like Siri, TechCrunch pointed out it sometimes provides more accurate and useful results for certain types of questions. Siri requests to search the web for an answer when users ask certain questions, such as “How do I make apple pie?” Evi, however, would provide a list of recipes with relevant links to that specific question. TechCrunch highlighted another example where Evi excels:

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Nuance Stories January 9, 2012

Nuance, the speech recognition company currently powering Apple’s Siri in the iPhone 4S, announced (via TechCrunch) it would be dropping a new voice-controlled TV platform known as “Dragon TV.” Apple is —of course— expected to include Siri-like voice capabilities in the rumored Apple branded HDTV, but Dragon TV has beat them to it with a platform that will enable users to find “content by speaking channel numbers, station names, show and movie names.”

Nuance Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today unveiled Dragon TV, a unique voice and natural language understanding platform for TV, device and set-top box OEMs and service operators. Dragon TV makes finding and accessing shows, movies and content in today’s digital living room easy and fun for consumers.

Nuance provided a few examples of what type of voice-control commands might work on the platform, such as “Go to PBS” or “Find comedies with Vince Vaughn,” but a user’s commands could include “virtually anything.” The company also announced the platform will include social and messaging features, such as email, Twitter, messaging, Skype, and Facebook. Those features will also be voice-controlled allowing a user to use voice-commands, such as “Send message to Julie: ‘Old School is on TBS again this weekend – super excited’”.

According to the press release, the Dragon TV platform is already available to television and device OEMs with support for “all major TV, set-top box, remote control and application platforms.” As for specific platforms, the press release mentions Linux, Android, and iOS. There is —of course— a possibility that the technology used in the Dragon TV platform will land in a version of Siri for an Apple TV device.

Senior Vice President and General Manager at Nuance Mobile Mike Thompson said this regarding the announcement:

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Nuance Stories December 20, 2011

There are fewer options for speech recognition these days, and now there are even fewer with Nuance announcing they acquired Vlingo for an undisclosed figure. Following multiple lawsuits related to patent infringement, the two companies apparently came to what CEO of Vlingo Dave Grannan called  “a good outcome.” Grannan elaborated in a prepared statement (via AllThingsD):

Vlingo and Nuance have long shared a similar vision for the power and global proliferation of mobile voice and language understanding. As a result of our complementary research and development efforts, our companies are stronger together than alone. Our combined resources afford us the opportunity to better compete, and offer a powerful proposition to customers, partners and developers.

Vlingo is notably used in various voice-controlled Android apps, and it is viewed as competitors to Apple’s Siri built into the iPhone 4S. However, Siri, also used it prior to it being used by Apple, before switching to Nuance…

In an interview with 9to5Mac, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky said Vlingo was originally used as the speech recognition component of Siri before switching to Nuance. He noted: “Theoretically, if a better speech recognition comes along (or Apple buys one), they could likely replace Nuance without too much trouble. ” The full quote is below.

9to5Mac: How important is Nuance speech recognition to the Siri technology? expand full story

Nuance Stories November 25, 2011

Microsoft’s Craig Mundie shoved his foot knee deep in his mouth this week when he said that Siri was nothing special, and Microsoft’s own voice capabilities have been around for over a year.  The reason for Siri’s success?  Marketing, of course.

People are infatuated with Apple announcing it. It’s good marketing, but at least as the technological capability you could argue that Microsoft has had a similar capability in Windows Phones for more than a year, since Windows Phone 7 was introduced.

To be fair, Siri isn’t even about the Voice Recognition, it is what the iPhone does with it.  The voice recognition is outsourced to Nuance’s engine. The Microsoft Phone barely made it to the point where you could make sense out of what its engine produced.

If you were Microsoft, would you rather Mundie be so out of touch with the technology he is talking about that he can’t tell the difference, or that he’s just flat out shamelessly lying?

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Nuance Stories November 10, 2011

Nuance just dropped a new Dragon dictation product in the Mac App Store called Dragon Express ($49 introductory price), a scaled-back, less expensive version of their Dragon Dictate software. This new version will reside in Lion’s menubar, allowing you to activate the dictate window with a keyboard shortcut or mouse click, and begin converting your speech to text immediately. From there you’ll be able to quickly email it, run a web search with the text, copy it, or share to the usual social networking suspects.

“Dragon Express is a great app for those who are new to speech recognition or who are looking for an easy-to-use dictation tool that allows them to use their voice instead of typing,” said Peter Mahoney, senior vice president and general manager, Dragon, Nuance. “For those looking for a more full-featured speech recognition program, we recommend Dragon Dictate, which provides the full capabilities of advanced speech recognition technology.”

Nuance speech recognition technology is currently baked into Apple’s Siri voice-controlled assistant, although Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky told 9to5Mac in a recent interview it could likely be replaced if “better speech recognition comes along”. If you’re wondering how Dragon Express stacks up against their full-fledged dictate software, Nuance posted the chart below comparing the feature sets of the two apps:

 (via MacStories) comparing features of Express and Dictate

Full press release after the break (via MarketWatch). expand full story

Nuance Stories September 14, 2011

Google’s Translate service is relatively accurate and smooth to use, but taking the time to type in what you’d like translated or even clicking the microphone button each time is a pain — especially in real-world situations. A new app that was announced at TechCrunch Disrupt, Vocre, lets you instantly translate foreign languages through voice, even when the conversation is going on. Vocre uses Nuance technology to translate speech in a three-step process.

Being in a foreign country, this app could be great for when in a coversation. As seen in the video above, it’s quick and allows the conversation to flow freely without taking the time to type words you don’t know how to spell in a search box.

The only downfall we can see to this app is the likelihood of needing an expensive data plan when travelling overseas. But for those times you do have data: useful!

Vocre is free in the iTunes App Store. Updated: As pointed out by our lovely commenters, the app comes with 10 free translations, and after users will be charged $.99 for an additional 10 and $8.99 for an additional 100.

Download

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