Apple is known for its quiet but extremely strategic acquisitions, and its latest deal is no different. Over the weekend, news broke that the iPhone maker bought a company called Lattice Dark, which specializes in "dark" data.
The deal between Apple and Lattice Dark appears to have been finalized several months ago, although rumors of an acquisition have floated around over the last several weeks. Finally, on May 13, an Apple spokesman confirmed the agreement to Fortune, without offering much in the way of details.
The only thing more mysterious than Apple's acquisition strategy is Lattice Dark itself.
The company was founded in 2015 and was developing commercial applications that grew out of DeepDive, a framework for statistical inference, which started as a Stanford research project. Here's how Lattice Dark describes itself on its LinkedIn page:
"Our platform reads unstructured media and converts it into structured data that can be used by traditional data analysis tools. We use advanced machine learning techniques, coupled with a rigorous engineering approach, to outperform human readers in many fields including scientific, insurance and government applications."
Lattice Dark was founded by Chris Re, who worked on the DeepDive project at Stanford and has received a MacArthur Genius Award, along with Mike Cafarella, a co-creator of Hadoop.
Before the acquisition, Lattice Dark received about $20 million in funding, including an investment from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. The company's technology has been used to fight human trafficking, according to LinkedIn.
Apple reportedly paid $200 million for Lattice Dark, according to CrunchBase. The company has about 30 employees.
What's not clear is what Apple would use Lattice Dark's technology for in its portfolio.
From what little information is available, it seems the company is looking to gather and organize dark data from the web and structure it though machine learning and artificial intelligence, as well as making this process more automated.
If Apple could organize this unstructured, dark data, and then process it through AI and machine learning, it could help build out the capabilities of its Siri assistant by making its recommendations more intuitive.
Apple has acquired other AI and machine learning companies over the past several years, including Turi and Vocal IQ.Related posts:
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