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Apple buys machine learning firm Perceptio, suggests development of imaging AI

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Apple on Monday confirmed the purchase of machine learning firm Perceptio, a startup focused on bringing advanced image-classifying artificial intelligence to smartphones by reducing data overhead typically required of conventional methods.

According to Bloomberg, Perceptio specialized in deep learning, an arm of machine learning that relies on pattern-based processing to analyze and categorize input. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," said Apple spokesman Colin Johnson.

Along with Perceptio's technology, Apple acquihired cofounders and artificial intelligence researchers Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, who earned PhDs from Harvard and MIT, respectively. The duo was developing AI software capable of recognizing and classifying images without tapping into monolithic stores of data, unlike current image recognition engines that rely on cloud computing, offsite servers and the Internet. Stone currently holds a position at Apple's California offices, sources confirmed to AppleInsider.

Pinto and Stone's work in image processing required an initial dataset, or image stock, from which to work. The process of gathering workable data spawned an offshoot project in GIF mixing app Smoothie. Unlike Perceptio's core technology, however, Smoothie does not employ AI software, nor is it built on a machine learning backbone.

Today's news comes on the back of Apple's acquisition of UK-based VocalIQ, a firm specializing in natural language processing as it applies to automobiles. That buy is thought to be part of Apple's Siri virtual assistant initiative.