Apple acquires AI startup specializing in overseeing manufacturing components

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Bloomberg reported that Apple has added another AI startup to its acquisition list with Canada-based DarwinAI, which specializes in vision-based technology to inspect components during manufacturing to improve efficiency.

Although Apple or DarwinAI have not announced the deal, according to their LinkedIn profiles, several members of the startup's team joined Apple's machine learning teams in January.

DarwinAI had raised over $15 million in funding across multiple rounds from investors including BDC Capital's Deep Tech Venture Fund, Honeywell Ventures, Obvious Ventures and Innovia Capital. BDC Capital has confirmed on its website that it has secured an exit from DarwinAI, while Obvious Ventures has updated its portfolio to reflect that the startup has been acquired.

BDC Capital and Obvious Venture did not comment on the story at the time of writing. Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

As Bloomberg points out in its report, in addition to helping manufacturing efficiency, DarwinAI uses techniques to make AI models smaller and faster. This could be useful for on-device generative AI features that Apple hopes to introduce in iOS 18 this year.

Apple has lagged behind in releasing Gen-AI-powered features compared to competitors like OpenAI, Google, Meta and Microsoft. In February, Tim Cook said the company planned to introduce such features “later this year.”

“We're spending a lot of time and effort and we're excited to share details of our ongoing work in that area later this year,” Cook said during a quarterly earnings call with analysts.

Last year, Apple's top executive confirmed investment in Gen-AI efforts. Apple's job listing shows that the company is exploring incorporating AI into several internal and external areas, including Siri, developer tools, and customer support.