Apple acquires artifical intelligence startup Perceptio

Perceptio logo

Bloomberg reports that Apple has acquired Perceptio, a small startup that allowed companies to create artificial intelligence systems on smartphones without storing their owners’ data in the cloud.

Bloomberg reports:

Perceptio’s goals were to develop techniques to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones, without having to draw from large external repositories of data. That fits Apple’s strategy of trying to minimize its usage of customer data and do as much processing as possible on the device.

Apple made the same comment about this acquisition that it has made previously on similar occasions.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

This is the second artificial intelligence startup that Apple has acquired in the span of a week. Late last week, Apple acquired VocalIQ, a U.K based startup known for making artificial intelligence software for processing natural language.

Perceptio was initially focussed on facial recognition but ended up releasing a video-sharing app called Smoothie last year, which wasn’t a deep-learning application, but a by-product of it. The founders’ philosophy seems to be in line with Apple’s strict privacy policy. Re/code who profiled the company last year provides some insight into what Perceptio was working on:

Stone and Pinto have spent more than a year noodling around the best ways to run neural network algorithms computations locally, on phones. Their first focus was facial recognition.

Existing facial recognition solutions, like those offered by Facebook and Google, require uploading photos via an Internet connection to someone else’s server farms. Up in the cloud, there’s enough processing power to smartly match a whole bunch of pictures of someone’s face with their name, and in doing so train a system to recognize future captures of the same person.

While Stone and Pinto realize they are paddling upstream, they think people should have a choice to control their own stuff on their own devices.

It will be interesting to see how Apple plans to use Perceptio’s technology in iOS.