Apple acquires Canadian startup DarwinAI

Apple has acquired Canadian AI startup, DarwinAI, adding more technology to its collection, ahead of its big push into generative AI in 2024.

Apple completed the purchase of DarwinAI earlier this year, which will be used to inspect the components during the manufacturing process, reported Bloomberg.

DarwinAI has developed AI technology tailored for the visual inspection of components in the manufacturing process, catering to clients across various industries. However, its standout innovation lies in refining AI systems to be more compact and swift – a breakthrough potentially beneficial to Apple, which prioritises running AI on devices over relying solely on the Cloud.

As of 2022, DarwinAI, based in Waterloo, Ontario, had secured over $15 million in funding, reported the Canadian startup hub Communitech. The firm attracted investments from entities such as Honeywell Ventures and Inovia Capital, alongside other venture capital firms. Additionally, DarwinAI has collaborated with notable companies including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Intel Corp., Communitech notes.

It has also been reported that Alexander Wong, an AI researcher at the University of Waterloo, who helped build DarwinAI, has joined Apple as a director in its AI division as part of the acquisition deal.

DarwinAI has not been the only startup to be acquired by Apple in recent times. In 2023 alone, Apple acquired 32 different startups, with the majority of them operating in the AI space. These strategic acquisitions are helping Apple achieve its big AI push. These acquisitions is helping Apple as a front runner in the constantly ongoing AI competition, despite Google and Microsoft both heavily investing in established AI companies.

Apple has made several strategic acquisitions to boost its AI capabilities over the last couple of years, including Voysis in 2020 to enhance Siri's understanding of natural language. In March 2023, it added WaveOne for its video compression technology, alongside other innovative companies like Emotient, Laserlike, Drive.AI, and AI.Music, integrating some of their technologies into its devices. In its push to expand in AI, Apple is set to acquire Brighter.AI, a German startup, aiming to improve its headset, the Apple Vision Pro.

Apple's devices feature AI and machine learning innovations in both software and hardware. Meanwhile, rivals such as Google and Samsung are quickly incorporating generative AI into their newest phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S24+.

Although Apple has acquired a greater number of AI companies than many of its competitors over the last ten years, it has generally lagged in the generative AI market. Though, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has assured that Apple will make significant advancements in AI this year, with an announcement anticipated at the company's worldwide developers conference in June.