Xnor.ai develops technology that runs deep learning models efficiently on edge devices such as phones, IoT devices, security cameras, drones, and embedded CPUs. Its acquisition would reportedly give Apple access to low-power edge AI tools for image recognition in cameras, smartphones, and wearables.
Apple has previously indicated interest in such technology for its devices, as it promises to both keep user information more private and to speed up processing. In 2016 the smartphone giant acquired machine learning startup Turi, whose technology let developers build apps with machine learning and AI capabilities that automatically scale and tune.
Similarly, last month Apple acquired UK startup Spectral Edge, which develops machine learning technology that improves photos taken on smartphones. The tech giant also made another AI purchase last year with its acquisition of self-driving startup Drive.ai, which had been running a ride-hailing service with autonomous shuttles in Texas.
According to reports, the latest acquisition, Xnor.ai, will likely move to Apple's offices in Seattle. The tech giant has previously announced plans to dramatically expand its Seattle operations by employing 2,000 people over the next five years in an engineering hub, with a key focus on AI and machine learning.
Apple has reportedly confirmed the acquisition of Xnor.ai with its standard acquisition statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Xnor.ai was spun off in 2017 from the non-profit Allen Institute for AI (AI2). It had raised $2.7 million in 2017 and $12 million in 2018 in funding rounds.