Why Apple's Huge AI Acquisition Is So Important

In strong company news for Apple that could have wider implications for the artificial intelligence industry, the tech company recently acquired startup Xnor.ai in a mind-blowing $200 million acquisition.

According to Business Insider, the move makes a lot of sense for Apple as it strives to boost its hardware offerings to a larger consumer base. “The startup's low-power, edge-based AI tools will allow Apple to add AI features to power-constrained devices, like smart cameras or phones,” as noted by the article. “For instance, Xnor.ai's most notable technology is an AI-based image recognition tool that enables on-device human detection for smart home cameras.”

And that’s not all that the acquisition can do for the wildly successful consumer tech company. “Apple will also have access to a platform created by Xnor.ai that allows software developers who aren't well-versed in AI to implement AI-related code and data libraries in their apps,” according to Business Insider.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first artificial intelligence company that Apple has purchased in recent years. In fact, it’s part of a larger trend of acquisitions for the organization, which is led by CEO Tim Cook. “In pursuit of improved AI features for its devices, the tech titan acquired UK-based AI startup Spectral Edge in December 2019; the startup uses machine learning to enhance photos, which could improve iPhone pictures. And in March 2019, Apple snapped up machine learning startup Laserlike, known for its AI-powered content personalization features that could bolster the Apple News app.”

The move makes sense given Apple’s desire to improve the wearable technologies it produces, as noted by Business Insider. “Apple must constantly improve its wearable technologies to maintain an advantage in an increasingly important segment. Apple earned $6.5 billion from its Wearables, Home and Accessories division, accounting for 10% of total revenue in Q4 2019 (ended September 28, 2019), up from $4.2 billion and 7% of total revenue in Q4 2018.”

The move also suggests a boon for the artificial intelligence industry as the acquisition could create more jobs at one of the world’s largest tech companies to put Xnor.ai’s services into more products globally.

Additionally, there are three main areas that Apple could use the company’s technology to enhance its own performance, according to the news publication:

  • “Apple can create a better user experience for its upcoming augmented reality (AR) headset with power-sipping AI tools.”
  • “It can improve the AI features in its popular smart headphones, while extending their battery life.”
  • “Low-power local AI tools could allow for additional health features on the Apple Watch.”