Apple Acquiring Artificial Intelligence Vendor Turi: Report

Turi, which specializes in machine learning and artificial intelligence, will add to Apple's holdings in that market.

Turi, AI, artificial intelligence, Apple, acquisition, machine learning

Apple has acquired artificial intelligence and machine learning startup Turi for about $200 million, giving Apple more expertise in both technologies and adding to the company's growing presence in the Seattle tech hub market.

The acquisition was reported Aug. 5 by Geekwire, based on several reports from people with information about the transaction. Turi was formerly known in the past as Dato and GraphLab.

Apple acknowledged its purchase of the company but had no additional comment, the report stated. "Turi's team is expected to remain in the Seattle region and continue to grow as Apple builds out further expertise in data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning," the story continued. "Apple's plans for Turi's technology are not clear, but the company has been making a broad push into artificial intelligence through an expansion of its Siri personal assistant and related technologies."

Turi builds software tools that allow rapid development and embedding of machine learning into applications, according to its website. The tools allow the creation of advanced applications with state-of-the-art algorithms and scalable data structures, according to the company.

Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, told eWEEK in an email reply that the Turi acquisition by Apple "is solid and smart, and makes Apple Machine Learning the most comprehensive offering with machine learning models, algorithms-optimizations, and [the] developer ecosystem."

Turi itself has a very strong machine learning developer ecosystem, with more than 40,000 data scientists and developers, far more than other companies, wrote Chowdhry.

Apple frequently makes acquisitions and investments to bolster its technologies.

In May, Apple invested $1 billion in DiDi Chuxing, China's ride-sharing service that competes with Uber, just before Apple CEO Tim Cook headed to China for talks with leaders there.

In January, Apple acquired emotion-detection startup Emotient, which provides data about customer attention, engagement and sentiment by analyzing a user's facial expressions and detecting their feelings with its cloud-based services. The company's services give direct measurement of a customer's unfiltered emotional response to ads, content, products and customer service or sales interactions.

The Emotient acquisition continued Apple's ongoing acquisition spree, which took on a new fervor in 2015 as the company worked to spend some of the more than $178 billion in cash it amassed in recent years on research and acquisitions.

In November 2015, Apple confirmed that it had acquired motion-capture technology startup Faceshift, which builds applications that capture human facial expressions as animated avatars or characters. Faceshift's motion-capturing technology had been used in the making of earlier Star Wars movies. In addition, Faceshift has worked with Intel and Pepsi on previous marketing campaigns that used the company's motion-capture technology.

In October 2015, Apple bought Perceptio, an artificial intelligence startup that works on ideas that could be integrated into future iPhones. Perceptio's technology helps smartphone owners more easily organize and store photos on their iPhones, making them easier to find and use. The price of the acquisition and terms of the deal were not announced.

In September 2015, Apple reportedly acquired Mapsense, a mapping visualization startup, for $25 million to $30 million to bolster its mapping assets as it continues to develop better map tools in iOS 9 and other Apple products, according to another eWEEK report. Mapsense works to help customers create data-driven maps for a wide range of business uses, while also offering mapping visualization tools and services to developers and enterprises. Apple has been struggling with mobile mapping services in the last several years, especially compared with Google Maps and its offerings.