Apple has acquired Perceptio, a start-up specializing in deep learning, according to Bloomberg. With the acquisition, Apple not only gets Perceptio’s technology but also acqui-hires co-founders and intelligence researchers Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone.
Apple retains Perceptio’s co-founders
Pinto and Stone earned their Ph.Ds from Harvard and MIT, respectively, and are working on developing AI software with the ability to recognize and classify images without the need to tap into monolithic stores of data. They want to create something different from the current image recognition engines which rely too much on cloud computing, offsite servers and the Internet. Citing unnamed sources, Apple Insider says that Stone currently holds a position at Apple’s California office.
Confirming the acquisition, Apple spokesman Colin Johnson said, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” The terms of the deal are not known.
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Pinto and Stone have the ability to use deep learning for better understanding of photos for functions such as facial recognition. For creating fun animations from short video clips, the duo released an iOS app called Smoothie, which neither employs AI software nor is built on a machine learning backbone like the core technology of Perceptio.
How Apple benefits from the acquisition
How Apple stands to benefit from this acquisition has not been revealed yet, but it might have something to do with improving image analysis on iPhones and iPads. Perceptio aims to develop a technology that could run AI image-classification systems on smartphones without the need to draw from large external repositories of data. If Apple runs these features locally, it will be able to minimize the need to store and transfer data to servers around the globe, eventually leading to increased privacy and security for customers in the process.
Apple also recently acquired VocalIQ, a U.K.-based firm specializing in natural language processing as it applies to automobiles. There are chances that the acquisition is a part of Apple’s Siri virtual assistant initiative. Last month, there were rumors that Apple acquired Faceshift, a Swiss-firm that uses stick-on markers as reference points to track facial expressions.
On Monday, Apple shares closed up 0.36% at $110.78. Year to date, the stock is down by almost 2% while in the last year, shares are up by over 11%.