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Apple acquires a startup that uses AI to compress videos


Apple acquires a startup that uses AI to compress videos

Apple has acquired a Mountain View-based startup, WaveOne that was developing AI algorithms for compressing video. Though Apple did not confirm the sale, WaveOne's former head of sales and business development, Bob Stankosh, announced the sale in a LinkedIn post published a month ago. WaveOne’s website was shut down around January, and several former employees now work within Apple’s various machine learning groups.


Stankosh wrote, “After almost two years at WaveOne, last week we finalized the sale of the company to Apple. We started our journey at WaveOne, realizing that machine learning and deep learning video technology could potentially change the world. Apple saw this potential and took the opportunity to add it to their technology portfolio.”


WaveOne’s main innovation was a “content-aware” video compression and decompression algorithm that could run on the AI accelerators built into many phones and an increasing number of PCs. Leveraging AI-powered scene and object detection, the startup’s technology could essentially “understand” a video frame, allowing it to, for example, prioritize faces at the expense of other elements within a scene to save bandwidth.


WaveOne also claimed that its video compression tech was robust to sudden disruptions in connectivity. That is to say, it could make a “best guess” based on whatever bits it had available, so when bandwidth was suddenly restricted, the video wouldn’t freeze; it’d just show less detail for the duration. WaveOne’s approach was hardware-agnostic, and could reduce the size of video files by as much as half, with better gains in more complex scenes.


Prior to the Apple acquisition, WaveOne attracted $9 million from backers including Khosla Ventures, Vela Partners, Incubate Fund, Omega Venture Partners and Blue Ivy.

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