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Apple Quietly Purchased an AI Startup to Bolster Siri’s Home Life

by Justin Herrick | November 23, 2018November 23, 2018 9:30 am PST

Apple acquired San Mateo-based Silk Labs, a startup that designs products and services with artificial intelligence at the core.

The deal was made earlier this year, but neither Apple nor Silk Labs made a formal announcement. It’s likely because both sides wanted to keep their plans behind closed doors. So far, Apple hasn’t pushed into home automation aside from offering HomeKit and the HomePod. With Silk Labs’ technologies, the portfolio could expand significantly in the next few years.

In 2016, Silk Labs rolled out a home security camera. The product, called Sense, used AI to analyze people and objects. It also understood user behavior to play music and linked to third-party devices like speakers and light bulbs.

Since releasing the Sense more than two years ago, Silk Labs turned its attention to more general efforts. The startup didn’t put anything else on the market, but it continued working on home security, retail analytics, package monitoring, digital display metrics, and access control.

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Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, would directly benefit from Silk Labs’ experience in artificial intelligence. The digital assistant needs to catch up to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. While there have been improvements, Apple still can’t beat its rivals in many areas.

Apple’s also missing a presence in home automation. After this acquisition, maybe the company can speed along development on a smart display or camera.

We’ll have to wait and see what Apple does. These acquisitions in Cupertino are rarely folded into existing plans immediately, and thus it could be a bit before Silk Labs’ ideas reemerge. Let’s just hope Apple puts even more resources into Siri after this.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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