Apple acquires smartphone AI firm Perceptio

The startup allows for image processing on-device, without exposing any user data

Apple has bought artificial intelligence startup Perceptio, which may allow Apple to introduce artificial intelligence systems on smartphones, without having to share as much user data with the source.

Earlier this week, Apple announced it had acquired UK speech processing AI company VocalIQ, which will reportedly be based at its new Cambridge R&D facility to help boost the powers of Siri.

Perceptio doesn't deal with speech like its previous acquisition, but its founders Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone are known in the image recognition AI space, using machine deep learning.

The company wanted to create a system that would run image classification processes on devices using AI learning, without having to use the data on the device or from other places.

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For example, it can analyse photos on a person's phone and recognise the people in the picture, just like Facebook and Google are able to do, but the process would happen on the device, without exposing any information to anyone else (such as the algorithm powering the whole process).

Bloomberg notes that the techniques fit alongside Apple's broader aims of using less customer data while allowing processing to happen on the smartphone or tablet itself.

It would seem this same philosophy applied to VocalIQ too - the company's CEO and co-founder said at the announcement: "For all of the many devices we use, we want to find a way to get what we need, in the easiest, safest way possible."

When asked about the value and more details of the acquisition, Apple said in a statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

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