According to VentureBeat, Apple has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) startup Xnor.ai for roughly $200 million.
Xnor specializes in “the efficient deployment of AI in edge devices like smartphones, cameras, and drones.” Apple has been making increasing inroads in the AI field, first with Siri and then with the Neural Engine hardware on the company’s line of chips used in iPhones and iPads. With Apple’s emphasis on privacy and security, however, the company is trying to do as much as possible on-device, rather than relying on the cloud.
Xnor’s technology is a perfect fit for Apple, as it would help the company expand the AI capabilities of its devices. According to GeekWire “the three-year-old startup’s secret sauce has to do with AI on the edge — machine learning and image recognition tools that can be executed on low-power devices rather than relying on the cloud.”
Geekwire also believes the acquisition is likely to help improve the iPhone’s image processing features.
“The arrangement suggests that Xnor’s AI-enabled image recognition tools could well become standard features in future iPhones and webcams.”
Apple made headlines when Siri first debuted, but quickly lost its lead in AI as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and countless startups focused more heavily on the burgeoning field. Apple has a long history of leapfrogging it’s competition, however, so it will be interesting to see what role Xnor will play in the company’s AI endeavors.