What is DarwinAI, Apple’s newly acquired start-up?

Apple quietly acquired Canadian artificial intelligence startup DarwinAI earlier this year, adding dozens of the company’s staffers to its AI division.

Bloomberg News reported the under-the-radar purchase on Thursday (Mar. 14) with Apple yet to publicly announce the news. They did tell the US news outlet that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.”

One of the big players in the Ontario-based company, Alexander Wong, has joined Apple as a director in its AI group as part of the deal. He helped to build the startup and works as an AI researcher at the University of Waterloo.

DarwinAI is the latest in a long list of similar acquisitions as Apple reportedly purchased 32 AI startups last year.

What is DarwinAI?

DarwinAI is best known for developing AI technology that can visually inspect components during the manufacturing process. They’re said to have served customers in a range of industries.

Founded in 2017, the company said its initial focus was on disrupting ‘the electronics manufacturing industry by improving the efficiency of Printed Circuit Board Assembly production through their ground-breaking technology.’

In 2022, they raised more than $15 million across six funding rounds. They received investment from 12 investors, including the likes of Honeywell Ventures and Inovia Capital, amongst other venture capital firms.

In a press release following the announcement of a funding round in December 2022, one of the co-founders said the “transformation is just beginning,” as they planned to raise money to help continue building advanced features.

Why did Apple buy DarwinAI?

It’s no secret that Apple is currently trailing behind other industry titans who have already made the steps into the world of AI.

The iPhone maker is now playing catch-up, with Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook promising that Apple will “break new ground” in AI this year. And the iPhone could soon have Google’s Gemini artificial intelligence (AI) to power new features, following chats between Apple and the search giant.

Its acquisition is likely in line with their focus and attention being on artificial intelligence, to keep up with others in the industry. 

In September of 2023, it was reported by The Information that the multinational corporation is investing millions of dollars per day into artificial intelligence, with work ongoing across multiple AI models over several teams.

Extensive work seems to have been carried out in the background at Apple in terms of bringing AI to the forefront, with an announcement expected around June time ahead of iOS 18 in September. 

Featured Image: Via Ideogram

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Sophie Atkinson