Apple purchases on-device AI startup

November 26, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Consumer technology giant Apple (Cupertino, CA) has reportedly acquired an artificial intelligence (AI) startup focused on building on-device machine learning software.

The acquisition of Silk Labs (San Carlos, CA) occurred earlier this year, according to media site The Information . Founded in 2015, Silk Labs announced only one product – a Kickstarter-funded smart home hub project called Sense in 2016 – which was subsequently cancelled in favor of developing AI software for other firms.

The company's current website states, "We empower businesses to build the next generation of intelligent connected devices." Its technology, says the company, offers state-of-the-art image and audio recognition by leveraging the latest advances in deep learning research.

Specific applications listed include people detection, facial recognition, object detection, and audio detection. The company's focus on edge computing appears to be a fit with Apple's approach, which has emphasized on-device data analysis – as opposed to on the cloud – as a means of ensuring user privacy.

At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2016, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering told attendees, "When it comes to performing analysis of your data, we're doing it on your devices, keeping your personal data under your control." Apple CEO Tim Cook has, more recently, also stressed both privacy and the importance of on-device AI.

No other details were available about the acquisition. Apart from the Kickstarter project, Silk Labs had reportedly raised around $4 million in venture funding and has about a dozen employees.

Apple
Silk Labs


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