According to a report today out of TechCrunch, Apple has acquired Lattice Data, a company that specializes in artificial intelligence where it relates to so-called “dark data.” The report explains that the deal was closed a few weeks ago, with 20 or so engineers from Lattice Data joining Apple.
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Apple is believed to have paid somewhere around the price of $200 million for the company, but other specific information about its plans remain unclear. While Apple hasn’t specifically commented on Lattice Data, the company did issue its standard statement when asked about the acquisition:
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Essentially, what Lattice Data does is take “dark data,” or data that is unstructured such as text and images, and turn it into structured data. The company says that it does so with “human-caliber quality and machine caliber scale.” Between 70 percent and 80 percent of data is unstructured, dark data. Therefore, that data is unusable for processing and analytics.
Where Lattice Data comes in, however, is taking that unstructured data and turning it into data that’s usable for processing and analytics, all by using machine learning.
Lattice Data was founded in 2015 by Christopher Ré, Michael Cafarella, Raphael Hoffmann, and Feng Niu based on research out of Stanford. The company had raised somewhere around $20 million in funding from GV, Madrona and InQTel.
According to today’s report, Lattice Data had been “talking to other tech companies about enhancing their AI assistants” before the Apple acquisition, suggesting that Apple plans to use Lattice Data to enhance its artificial intelligence efforts, likely related to Siri.
Apple has made other machine learning and artificial intelligence acquisitions. The company last year acquired the Seattle-based company Turi, while simultaneously expanding its Seattle offices to put a bigger focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Following the Turi acquisition, Apple transformed the company into a dedicated machine learning division to build future product features.
As for what we’ll see out of the Lattice Data acquisition remains to be seem. Nevertheless, Apple clearly has a deeply vested interest in furthering its AI and machine learning initiatives.