Most consumers have no interaction with Amazon other than its admittedly sprawling retail empire. However, the eCommerce giant keeps making the case that it wants to be on the same level as Google, Intel and other tech companies — and it’s getting there through acquisitions.
Bloomberg reported it had received confirmation from an anonymous source close to the deal that Amazon acquired Orbeus, a startup specializing in artificial intelligence image recognition, back in the fall of 2015. Orbeus had previously sold a deep learning engine called ReKognition API, but the startup’s website now says that sales are closed for the time being.
“ReKognition API is no longer taking new customers,” Orbeus’ website explains. “But we’re up to new/exciting things.”
It’s not readily apparent what Amazon would use Orbeus’ automated image recognition engine for, but RJ Hottovy, analyst at Morningstar, speculated to The Street that Amazon’s other recent acquisitions may dovetail into a new way of moving the billions of products it sells around the world as efficiently as possible.
“Between this and the rumors of Amazon potentially taking a stake in German digital mapping company HERE, it appears that Amazon is investing in technologies that could potentially automate parts of its logistics and fulfillment infrastructure,” Hottovy said. “I view these as sound investments that solidify one of Amazon’s competitive advantages as a technologically dominant logistics company, and would expect more acquisitions in early-stage technologies like this in the future.”
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter also wondered whether AI image recognition could be used as some sort of security measure for Amazon Web Services, or possibly even as an enhancement for their Fire TV and gaming platforms.
“It could be consumer, it could be commercial, it could be security,” Pachter admitted.
Amazon representatives have not responded to media outlets’ requests for comment.