Apple earlier this year snapped up an AI video company, Bloomberg reports. The Barcelona-based Vilynx uses AI technology to help analyze videos to understand what it shows by looking at text, visuals, and audio. This can be used to make the videos more easily searchable.
According to the report, Apple could use this tech to make its Photos app better by allowing users to search videos for people and objects the same way they currently can search photos. It could also help make Siri smarter or improve recommendations in the TV app and more.
A 2019 email I received from Vilynx lays out what its mission is/was and what made it innovative:
“From voice assistants and self-driving cars to Elon Musk’s brain implant pipe dream, artificial intelligence is exploding across industries.
But despite the intrigue and advances, most of today’s AI is based on rigid systems that require neatly organized data and pre-training. The true differentiator of next-level AI is self-learning: how can you build machines that can learn and adapt in the real world?
Vilynx, the only artificial intelligence company exclusively dedicated to media, is at the forefront of self-learning. Pioneering a proprietary AI platform that can grow and expand without human input, Vilynx is surpassing the boundaries of traditional supervised learning systems to unlock the full potential of AI. Continuously building upon and adding to its self-learning knowledge graph of 10M+ concepts, Vilynx’s ‘brain’ has grown exponentially, experiencing a ten-fold increase in neural connections over four months.”
Details of the Vilynx deal
The deal supposedly cost Apple about $50 million. A quick search of Crunchbase suggests Vilynx had raised some $10.7 million in Series A funding. That suggests a pretty nice return for its founders and three investors.
Apple gave its typically vague statement to Bloomberg:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Around 50 of Vilynx’s engineers will reportedly remain at Apple. Meanwhile, Apple will keep on the Barcelona office and make it into a AI R&D hub in Europe. Apple has already started hiring engineers who will work at the office.
This is just the latest AI startup investment Apple has made. This year alone, its snapped up Xnor.ai, Inductiv and Voysis to help deepen its AI capabilities. For a long time, Apple appeared to be lagging behind in this area. Other tech giants like Facebook and Google have made AI a big focus.