Artificial Intelligence: Apple Shells Out $50M For Video AI Startup Vilynx
Vilynx is the latest in Apple’s string of acquisitions of AI startups this year.
Earlier this year, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) acquired Vilynx, a Barcelona-based startup that uses AI and computer vision technology to analyze a video’s visual, audio, and text elements. Reportedly, the iPhone maker clinched the acquisition for $50 million. (Bloomberg)
After analysis, Vilynx can understand a video’s content and message. It uses this knowledge to automatically create tags for the video, thus making it more easily searchable.
Bloomberg clarifies that understanding is different from simple recognition. Though a computer system may immediately identify the photograph of a movie star (recognition), it would not know what the actor is famous for – for example, winning an Oscar (understanding).
Vilynx bridges the gap between recognition and understanding.
Apple’s response, and intent
Bloomberg said Apple’s response was its standard and laconic statement on such matters: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
However, Bloomberg speculates that Apple intends to add Vilynx’s technology to its Siri digital assistant. Siri has long been viewed as inferior to similar offerings from Apple’s rivals.
Apple may also use the technology for its various apps such as Photos, TV, and News. The objective may be to make content searchable and tailor its relevance to the user’s requirements.
Apple’s AI buys
Nevertheless, it is clear that AI is a major thrust area for Apple.
In May, the Cupertino, California-based technology giant acquired machine learning startup Inductiv Inc, reportedly also for boosting Siri’s skills. Inductiv identifies and corrects errors in data using a process automated by artificial intelligence.
In January the manufacturer of iPhones acquired Xnor.ai, a start-up listed in the Forbes AI 50: America’s Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies’ list, for $200 million.
According to Wired, Apple’s purchase of this startup showed the trend of computing on the “edge” rather than in the cloud.
In time to come, handheld devices could “machine-learn” too. They could thereby improve their performance over time, without recourse to the cloud.
Vilynx’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Elisenda Bou-Balust and about 50 of its engineers and data scientists will continue to serve with Apple, Bloomberg said.
Apple has also started to hire additional talent for the Vilynx office, which it will retain and develop as its main AI R&D base in Europe.
Related Story: Apple Acquires Inductiv Inc., a Machine Learning Startup
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