Apple Buys AI Startup to Improve Apps

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Apple Buys AI Startup to Improve Apps

Apple Inc. acquired a startup practicing advanced artificial intelligence and computer vision technology. It can help the iPhone maker improve its artificial intelligence in several applications and services. 

The tech giant acquired Vilynx Inc., which developed a technology that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the visual, audio, and text content of a video, to understand what it shows. It adopted that technology to create tags for the video, which helps its search.

apple, Apple Buys AI Startup to Improve Apps

The deal took place for approximately $50 million, share sources.

Apple stated in its statement that the company buys smaller technology firms from time to time. Generally, they do not discuss their purpose or their plans.

Vilynx applied its technology to the software companies used for search engines, video recommendations and other media. On its website, the startup promoted its system’s ability not only to recognize items but to understand them as well.

Google is still smarter than Apple

Apple could apply this technology to the company’s digital assistant, Siri, and its search. Besides, it could be used in the company’s Photos app to make videos more accessible to search. It’s similar to how users can find photos by searching for items within photos. Apple could also potentially apply it in a recommendation engine for its TV and News applications to display more relevant content for users.

About 50 of the Vilynx data scientists and engineers remain at Apple, including the company’s co-founder and CTO, Elisenda Bou-Balust.

Apple maintains Vilynx’s office in Barcelona and intends to make it one of the company’s leading AI research and development centers in Europe. Apple has begun hiring engineers for the office. Also, Apple has AI engineers in Europe in Cambridge, UK; Cork, Ireland; Munich, Germany; and Zurich, Switzerland.

The acquisition adds to a growing list of AI companies bought by Apple in recent years. Earlier in 2020, Apple acquired Xnor.ai, Inductiv Inc., and Voysis Limited to bolster its artificial intelligence efforts. 

The tech giant launched Siri in 2011 and has since expanded artificial intelligence into its software, including the Camera and Photos apps, optimizing battery life, handwriting, and facial recognition. But while the company has come a long way to improve machine learning technology, the Siri voice assistant is still considered inferior to rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Apple’s efforts to hire new researchers and the appointment of a former Google executive, John Giannandrea, indicate the company’s aims to make significant improvements.

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