Apple acquires AI startup specializing in overlooking manufacturing components

Apple has added another AI startup to its acquisition list with Canada-based DarwinAI, which specializes in vision-based tech to observe components during manufacturing to improve efficiency, Bloomberg reported.

While Apple or DarwinAI haven’t announced this deal, several members of the startup’s team joined Apple’s machine learning teams in January, as per their LinkedIn profiles.

DarwinAI had raised over $15 million in funding across various rounds from investors including BDC Capital’s Deep Tech Venture Fund, Honeywell Ventures, Obvious Ventures, and Inovia Capital. BDC Capital confirms on its website that it has received an exit from DarwinAI, whereas Obvious Venture has updated its portfolio to reflect that the startup has been acquired.

BDC Capital and Obvious Venture didn’t comment on the story at the time of writing. Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

As Bloomberg noted in its report, apart from helping with manufacturing efficiency, DarwinAI uses techniques to make AI models smaller and faster. This could be useful for on-device generative AI features Apple hopes to introduce in iOS 18 this year.

Apple has lagged in releasing gen-AI-powered features as compared to competitors like OpenAI, Google, Meta, and Microsoft. In February, Tim Cook said the company plans to introduce such features “later this year.”

“We continue to spend a tremendous amount of time and effort and we’re excited to share the details of our ongoing work in that space later this year,” Cook said during a quarterly earnings call with analysts.

Last year the Apple top exec had confirmed investment into gen-AI efforts. Apple’s job listings have suggested the company is exploring infusing AI in multiple internal and external areas including, Siri, developer tools, and customer support.

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