Apple Acquires Canadian AI Startup Based in Waterloo

Apple continues to build up its artificial intelligence portfolio, as according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the iPhone maker has acquired a Canadian AI startup.

Waterloo, Ontario-based DarwinAI was gobbled up by Apple earlier this year, say sources, with employees now joining the AI division of the Cupertino-based company.

DarwinAI, known for its advancements in AI technology for component inspection during manufacturing, also specializes in optimizing AI systems for enhanced speed and compactness. This expertise aligns with Apple’s focus on device-based AI processing, as opposed to relying solely on cloud-based solutions. Alexander Wong, an AI researcher from the University of Waterloo and a co-founder of DarwinAI, has joined Apple as a director in its AI group.

Darwin ai

“DarwinAI is a rapidly growing visual quality inspection company providing manufacturers an end-to-end solution to improve product quality and increase production efficiency. Our patented Explainable AI (XAI) platform has been adopted by numerous Fortune 500 companies easily integrating AI they can trust and results they can see. Our XAI platform was built from years of research (500+ publications including numerous awards) and led by Dr. Alexander Wong, Canada’s Research Chair in AI,” explains Darwin AI’s LinkedIn page. The Darwin AI website is no longer available, nor is its account on X and YouTube.

Wong’s LinkedIn page says he’s been a Director at Apple’s Machine Learning Research division, full-time, since January 2024.

Apple gave Bloomberg its boilerplate statement, saying it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time” without sharing specific details.

DarwinAI had raised over $15 million as of 2022, with backing from companies like Honeywell Ventures and Inovia Capital, according to Communitech, a hub for the Canadian startup community. The startup also has collaborations with companies like Lockheed Martin and Intel.

Apple’s upcoming iOS 18 is said to have a huge generative AI component and is said to be unveiled at this year’s WWDC. While OpenAI and Google forge ahead with their AI chatbots ChatGPT and Gemini, Apple’s Siri has lagged, far, far behind.

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