Apple Buffs Machine Learning Credentials, Purchases Vocal IQ and Perceptio

Apple opened the checkbook this week to make two interesting purchases that at face value appear to be tied to improving Siri's digital assistant skills both on the phone and yes, inside the car.

First up, Vocal IQ:

Vocal IQ, in a 2015 blog post wrote that while Apple won the visual UX, AI assistants like Google GOOGL +1.36% Now, Cortana and even Siri are a long way off from being perfect. Imagine hiring an assistant who, in most cases did not properly understand what you asked it to do, did not bother to tell you what it did not understand, and instead of clarifying what it did not understand, simply executed the result of the misunderstanding. They go on to write that the consumer demand for a self-learning multi-domain conversational voice system where consumers can freely talk about movies, restaurants, music, hotel bookings and the meaning of life, is where the real prize is.

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Apple believes this is the future of interaction with the objects we take for granted today, not just consumer items such as smartphones, tablets, TVs. The entire environment around us is up for grabs. The vision of talking to your computer like in Star Trek and it fully understanding and executing those commands are about to become reality in the next 5 years, not just explicitly but ambiently.

The report last year around GM and Vocal IQ exploring car interfaces points once again to the rumoured BMW-Apple Car (or Project Titan as it’s also known). If Apple cracks an intelligent interface that surpasses Apple Play a hundred-fold it could herald how Cupertino plans to execute a fully autonomous car in the future.

Why Apple's Artificial Intelligence Acquisition Is Much Bigger Than Siri | Forbes

Next up, Perceptio:

Apple Inc. acquired Perceptio, a startup developing technology to let companies run advanced artificial intelligence systems on smartphones without needing to share as much user data. The company’s leaders, Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, are both established AI researchers who specialize in developing image-recognition systems using deep learning. Deep learning is an approach to artificial intelligence that lets computers learn to identify and classify sensory input.

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Perceptio’s goals were to develop techniques to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones, without having to draw from large external repositories of data. That fits Apple’s strategy of trying to minimize its usage of customer data and do as much processing as possible on the device.

Apple Acquires Startup Developing Advanced AI for Phones | Bloomberg

Baby steps to the eventual machine takeover, but if Siri was a more effective task manager along the way it seems like a fair trade.