Apple Acquires On-Device AI Firm Xnor.ai for $200 Million

XNOR.AI

Apple has reportedly acquired an AI (artificial intelligence) firm for $200 million. The Seattle-based firm Xnor.ai, which makes it possible to run AI algorithms on low power devices rather than communicating with the cloud is based our of Seattle.

According to GeekWire, Apple recently acquired the three-year-old AI firm Xnor.ai. The Seattle-based company specializes in low-power edge-based AI computing. Its technologies make it possible to run AI on low-power devices like cameras, drones, IoT devices, smartwatches, and smartphones. The company’s standalone AI chip can run for years on solar power or a coin-sized battery.

Edge-based computing aims to bring data storage and computing tasks out of the cloud to local devices, so it uses relatively less data, takes very little time, and offers higher security. Xnor.ai’s AI and ML (machine learning) tools can be used for things like image recognition with minimal response times. Forbes had ranked Xnor.ai at the 44th place on a list of the most promising AI firms in the US.

Xnor.ai has created a self-service platform that developers can use to integrate AI code and required data libraries into their apps and run them locally on devices. As per an anonymous source, Apple paid $200 million to acquire Xnor.ai. That’s the same amount of money it had paid in 2016 to acquire another Seattle-based AI startup, Turi.

The AI firm is behind the popular smart home camera company Wyze’s on-device people-detection feature. Speaking of Wyze, it will stop using Xnor.ai’s technologies in the next few days and replace it with the company’s own version of person detection. Apple already has its own people detection feature for HomeKit Secure Video compatible smart cameras, but it can be even better with Xnor.ai’s tech.

Our Take

Apple acquires dozens of companies each year, and Xnor.ai is one of those. The iPhone maker usually uses talent and technologies from these acquisitions to improve its own products and services in several ways. We might see better person detection with HomeKit Secure Video feature in the coming years. The technology from the newly acquired firm could even be used in the company’s iPhones and iPads.

[Via GeekWire]