ARM Expands Imaging Technology Portfolio With Apical Buy
ARM is expanding its ambitions in such areas as connected cars, robotics and the Internet of things with the $350 million acquisition of Apical, a small UK company that develops embedded computer vision products.
Apical's technology enables systems to interpret their surroundings based on images and act accordingly based on that information, an important capability not only for self-driving cars but also for other environments, including smart buildings, security systems, retail applications, robotics and mobile devices. The company's technologies already are finding their way into devices; according to ARM officials, its advanced imaging products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and about 300 other devices, including tablets, IP cameras and digital stills cameras.
ARM closed the deal May 17. Apical was founded in 2002 and has about 100 employees. Most are in the R&D side of the business; about 80 are engineers.
ARM has become the dominant player in the mobile device market, particularly in smartphones and tablets. The company designs systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), and then licenses those designs to such vendors as Samsung, Qualcomm and Nvidia. Like most others in the processors space, ARM officials are seeing the slowdown in shipments as the global smartphone market matures and tablets sales decline, and they are looking for new growth areas. Emerging markets like connected cars, industrial applications, robotics and the IoT will be important to ARM and others.
Officials with the chip designer say the $350 million deal will enable ARM to expand into such emerging markets as connected cars, IoT and robotics.
According to Apical founder and CEO Michael Tusch, much of the technology developed by his company is the result of research into human vision and visual processing.