Apple indirectly confirmed it purchased the machine learning company Tuplejump, adding to its collection of artificial intelligence talent. Tuplejump’s technology is designed to process large amounts of data to make it easier to work with, which sounds like a great fit for Siri.
After hearing rumors that Tuplejump had been purchased, TechCrunch asked Apple and was told, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” That’s Apple-speak for “Yes, we bought the company.”
Tuplejump is the company behind the open source project FiloDB, which is a system designed to process analytics and machine learning to large data streams in real time. The project has been pulled from github, which means Apple likely plans to keep FiloDB all to itself.
This isn’t Apple’s first artificial intelligence and machine learning purchase. The iPhone and Mac maker bought Perceptio in 2015, and Turi earlier this year. Perceptio was working on a deep learning image recognition system, and Turi focused on distributing machine learning across multiple servers.
Putting the pieces together
Combining all three purchases, Apple could create an artificial intelligence system that processes massive amounts of data in real time across a server farm to analyze text, spoken words, and images, too. That could make Siri more responsive and much better at accurately anticipating our needs—or simply providing appropriate responses to our questions and requests.
That also fits nicely with reports of a prototype Apple-made Echo competitor. Echo is Amazon’s voice-based personal assistant appliance designed to respond to user’s spoken commands and questions. Bloomberg’s sources say Apple is testing a similar device, which would be essentially a stand-alone Siri interface.
Apple hasn’t confirmed the project, but has submitted a mystery device to the FCC for approval. The device include Bluetooth and NFC, but little else is know about what it is or does. Still, the timing is interesting because Amazon Echo is already available, and Google’s competing Home device is coming soon. Assuming Apple is jumping into this market as well, it’s about the right time for something to show up waiting for FCC approval.
Assuming Apple really is working on an Echo competitor, finding ways to make theirs smarter, faster, and more friendly will take some serious talent—like the engineers Apple picked up from Perceptio, Turi, and now Tuplejump.