Apple Inc acquired artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Turi Inc for about US$200 million, people familiar with the situation said, in the latest deal by the iPhone maker to accumulate advanced computing capabilities for its products and services.
Turi helps developers create and manage software and services that use a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning.
It also has systems that let companies build recommendation engines, detect fraud, analyze customer usage patterns and better target potential users, according to the Seattle-based start-up’s Web site.
Apple could use this to more rapidly integrate the technology with future products.
Apple’s move on Friday is part of a broader battle among Google, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc to gain an edge in AI, particularly in the field known as pervasive computing, where software tries to automatically infer what people want, one of the people said.
Turi’s technology could feed into Apple’s Siri digital assistant and help define new ways computers interact with people, the person said.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the US firm said in a statement.
GeekWire earlier reported the acquisition.
Formerly known as Dato, Turi raised more than US$25 million from venture capital investors, including New Enterprise Associates and Madrona Venture Group, according to CrunchBase.
The Turi team will remain in Seattle, one of the people familiar with the situation said.
Apple has purchased multiple firms over the past couple of years that specialize in AI. The company has also begun to integrate these technologies into products such as its iPhone software and Siri.
Machine learning and AI help computers automatically understand images, videos and spoken words. The technologies also allow systems to take actions or make recommendations on such data. Apple has already begun to show the fruits of its AI investments via better keyword recognition by Siri across multiple product lines.
Apple is to release a new version of its photo-management program for iPhones and iPads that uses AI to recognize objects in photographs.
For example, a user will be able to search for “sushi” and photographs of the food will appear. Apple will also bring machine learning capabilities to its iMessage application by adding a feature this fall that translates words in texts into emoji icons.
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