Apple is known to silently acquire startups which it believes will help improve its existing technologies. This time around, The Information reports that Apple acquired AI startup Silk Labs earlier this year. The startup focuses on developing on-device AI technology and had approximately raised $4 million in funding.
In typical Apple fashion, there’s no word on how much money Apple paid to acquire Silk but given the relatively small size of the startup, the amount would not have been much. There were around 12 employees in Silk at the time it was acquired by Apple.
The startup was co-founded by three former Firefox engineers — Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal, ex-platform engineer Chris Jones, and former Qualcomm Innovation Center’s senior director of technology Michael Vines — in San Mateo, California. The startup was founded in 2015 and was focused on creating an operating system for IoT hardware that was powered by AI.
Silk had also launched a Kickstarter campaign of an AI-powered security camera and smart hub called Sense. Unlike other security cameras, the AI-powered Sense did not have to rely on the cloud for computational processing for user recognition and other AI features. This was a major win for many from a privacy viewpoint. Despite the campaign reaching its goal though, Silk never got around to manufacturing the camera. It ended up canceling the campaign in June 2016 and announced plans of making the platform open source.
Apple is known to acquire startups from time to time and it does not really provide much information about their acquisition. Just last month, Apple was reported to have acquired a Danish startup Spektral for $30 million. It is likely that Apple will use the expertise from Silk Labs to bolster its own on-device AI processing since just like Silk, Apple also relies heavily on local computational processing for privacy reasons.[Via The Information]