Apple Acquires French AI Company Specializing in On-Device Processing

Apple has acquired the Paris-based artificial intelligence startup Datakalab amid its push to deliver on-device AI tools.

Datakalab specializes in algorithm compression and embedded AI systems. The acquisition, finalized on December 17 last year, was quietly conducted but noted in a European Commission filing spotted by French publication Challenges (via iPhoneSoft). While the financial details of the transaction remain undisclosed, the move is almost certainly part of Apple’s broader strategy to bring more sophisticated AI technology to its devices, such as those expected to be introduced in iOS 18.

The company was established in 2016 by Xavier and Lucas Fischer and made significant strides in AI technology focusing on low-power, high-efficiency deep learning algorithms that function without relying on cloud-based systems. This approach aligns with Apple’s oft-touted commitment to user privacy, data security, and reliable performance, as processing data locally minimizes the risk of data breaches and ensures faster processing times. The startup’s expertise in compressing neural networks to work effectively on portable devices like smartphones and tablets is likely a key factor in Apple’s interest.

Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman recently reported that Apple’s LLM will run entirely on-device, rather than via the cloud like most existing AI services. Apple’s AI tools may be less capable in certain instances than its direct cloud-based rivals, but Gurman suggested that the company could “fill in the gaps” by licensing technology from Google and other AI service providers.

Before its acquisition, Datakalab engaged in various high-profile projects, including collaborations with the French government and Disney. The company developed technology capable of analyzing human emotions by facial recognition and visual data, which were later used to monitor audience reactions in real-time during cinema screenings. The first look at Apple’s new AI strategy is widely anticipated to arrive alongside previews of its next-generation operating systems at WWDC in early June.

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