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May 15, 2017 04:53 AM EDT

Apple To Get Serious About Turning Unstructured Data Into Usable One, Acquires An AI And Machine Learning Startup Lattice

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Apple is making a deep push in the machine learning and artificial intelligence space. The American tech giant has just acquired a data-crunching startup called Lattice. Apple is said to have bought the startup to beef up its capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The deal was first reported by the tech-focused site TechCrunch.

The Cupertino-based company this week has reportedly acquired the Menlo Park, California-based AI specialist Lattice for $200 million. Apple has decided to acquire Lattice, whose technology focuses on "dark data" and turn it into structured or more usable information, to bolster its capabilities in the machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The term "dark data" refers to the mass of unorganized information stored in computer networks or IT systems that are not in a proper format for companies to analyze or tap into, and this where the Lattice technology comes on. The startup simply applies AI technology just to make sense of all that "dark data." Once that data has been unlocked using proper organization, it can then be used for various purposes, which could range from policing, medical research and more, the TechCrunch reported.

The deal has already being closed a couple of weeks ago, and around 20 engineers have already joined the Cupertino-based company as their new home. When asked about the Lattice deal, Apple has just responded with its usual boilerplate confirmation that the Cupertino-based company buys smaller technology companies from time to time and it generally does not anything about its purpose or plans, the website added.

According to Fortune, Lattice's technology has some similarities with Google's Knowledge Graph, which Google claimed can understand relationships between people, places, and things. This Google's technology can even provide answers to some questions like "What's the capital of the state of Colorado?"

This is not the first time Apple has acquired an AI-focused startup. Last year, Apple has acquired also the Seattle-based Turi, a machine learning startup led by University of Washington computer scientist Carlos Guestrin. Turi has been added by Apple to enable the tech giant to create a base of talent around artificial intelligence and machine learning in the Seattle area, where it plans to grow its footprint, the GeekWire reported.

Coincidentally, Lattice also has some Seattle connections, according to GeekWire. Three of Lattice's its founders, namely Christopher Re, Raphael Hoffmann, and Mike Cafarella, came from the prestigious University of Washington's computer science program.

Lattice has first started a research project at Stanford called DeepDive, a system developed at Stanford that focuses on extracting value from dark data. Founded in 2015, Lattice has largely remained under the radar, but it doing well in its early stages. The company has managed to raise at least $20 million funding from GV, Madrona, and InQTel before exiting from stealth mode last year.

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