Apple Reportedly Acquires French AI Firm Working With On-Device AI and Computer Vision

Apple has reportedly acquired a French artificial intelligence (AI) startup that is working with on-device computer vision technology. The Paris-based Datakalab was reportedly acquired by the iPhone maker at the end of last year. The move is said to be related to the tech giant’s ambitions of bringing AI features to the iPhone and its other devices. Interestingly, this is not the first AI firm to be acquired by Apple in this period. Last month, another report claimed that the tech giant acquired a Canadian AI startup called DarwinAI as well.

The information comes from the French business magazine Challenges, which claimed that the deal to purchase Datakalab was finalised on December 17, 2023. While the amount spent by Apple to acquire the startup is not known, based on a notification to the European Commission, the tech giant now has a 100 percent stake in the company. Notably, the AI firm was founded in 2017 by brothers Xavier and Lucas Fischer.

According to the LinkedIn page of Datakalab, the company describes its work as “a new way to compress computer vision neural networks”. In its About section, it further explains that it works on “compression and adaptation to deploy embedded computer vision that is fast, cost-effective and precise”. The AI firm has published nine research papers and has three patents pending.

The description of the startup highlights why Apple could be interested in it. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported multiple times that the tech giant wants to build on-device AI. Datakalab’s work, largely in computer vision, was also focused on building on-device tools and systems. Further, the computer vision part is important as it could give Apple an advantage compared to its rivals. OpenAI recently launched its vision model, and most smartphone-based AI features (except Google Lens) do not offer vision-focused features.

Apple also reportedly acquired Canadian AI firm DarwinAI earlier this year. This startup also worked with on-device AI components. Based on these reported ventures, it is clear that the iPhone maker is heavily investing to meet its rumoured deadline of June 10, when the company is expected to unveil iOS 18, and possibly the new AI features it has been working on.

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