What Are Apple's Plans With Newly Acquired AI Startups?

By Gracelyn Jadyn on December 06, 2015

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Gracelyn Jadyn has been in the blogging industry since 2010 and has been invited by several reputable tech websites to cover events and write about the latest innovative devices on the market. Connect with her via email here.

In early October, an Apple spokesperson confirmed that the company acquired machine learning startup Perceptio. Experts speculated that the inclusion of Perceptio’s past artificial intelligence system and information could help develop the tech giant’s security protocol. The advanced AI system for smartphones will allow users to access different files without the need to share as much data.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," said Colin Johnson, Apple’s official spokesperson. The company did not disclose any details about the terms of the acquisition though.

Based on Bloomberg’s data, Perceptio specializes in deep learning. Its leaders, Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, are established AI researchers in the industry who both specialize in developing an advanced image-recognition system. They have created an approach wherein computers identify and classify the sensory input of users for future use.

A more talkative Siri

Aside from Perceptio, another software startup based in the United Kingdom was acquired by Apple in September. VocalIQ is said to have helped Siri become “more conversational” and accurate in taking requests. In terms of Siri, there were obvious huge improvements seen from the iOS 7 to the iOS 9. As seen on the featured page by O2, the iOS 7 which was built into the iPhone 5c and 5s had the same Siri as before but with more updated local information based on the user’s current location. Meanwhile, the iOS 8 on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus made Siri less robotic but still not humanized enough. Then, we saw iOS 9 on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus where Siri became smarter having the capability to run on your Home screen and responding to the owner’s voice when they call her out “Hey Siri!” With the arrival of the VocalIQ system on Apple’s camp, we hope to see Siri to be more talkative, informative, accurate, and smarter, probably on the iOS 10.

Apple’s AI Plans

The artificial intelligence industry is still open for further development, especially in the mobile tech category. Apple is only one of those tech giants vying for the top position to further develop and enhance the technology to be included in their next line of smartphones and tablets. They are in close competition with Microsoft and Google in developing the AI technology on mobile devices. Reuters reported that Apple is planning to hire 86 AI experts to develop an innovative mobile solution for smartphones, which is said to give “users what they want before they even know they need it.” But, with the current acquisition of Perceptio and VocalIQ we are not certain if they are still looking for people to fill the said position.

The California-based tech firm has been ‘proactive’ in developing the said technology. Previous negotiations with different specialized tech companies show how Apple is persistent to develop AI. Here’s some evidence:

• In 2012, Apple recruited John Morrell, a Yale robotics expert.
• Recent acquisition of augmented reality firm Metaio.
• A deep connection with IBM and Watson.
• A strong growing connected health network.

Currently, the company tries to keep other development details under wrap. “There's no way they can just observe and not be part of the community and take advantage of what is going on,” said Yoshua Bengio, AI pioneer and computer science professor at the University of Montreal. “I believe if they don’t change their attitude, they will stay behind.”

What do you think of Apple’s plan to acquire two AI startups?

What revolutionary AI features do you expect to see on their next mobile devices?

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This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of RE.WORK. As a result some opinions may even go against the views of RE.WORK but are posted in order to encourage debate and well-rounded knowledge sharing, and to allow alternate views to be presented to the RE.WORK community.

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