Apple may now be worth a world-leading $2 trillion, but one thing that doesn’t appear likely to change is the tech behemoth’s penchant for secretly snapping up promising young startups with niche technologies it covets.
On that note, Israeli newspaper Calcalist reports Apple bought and then subsequently shuttered Camerai, a photography startup based in Israel that had developed valuable augmented reality (AR) and computer vision technology.
Apple shelled out tens of millions to acquire the small startup, with the deal apparently taking place 18 months ago, according to Calcalist, which is billing its story as an exclusive.
Apple has since incorporated Camerai’s technology into Apple cameras, helping develop their “augmented reality and video technology capabilities,” the paper reports.
The Camerai team has since been folded into Apple’s computer vision unit, according to the newspaper.
Camerai got its start in 2014 in Tel Aviv, with a 13-member staff that worked on developing photographic technology, including “advanced capabilities in deep learning and computer vision,” the report said.
However, in keeping with Apple’s well-known penchant for secrecy, the founders of the company have kept radio silence about the deal and the fact they now work for Apple, according to Calcalist.
Such deals are no oddity at Apple, with CEO Tim Cook reportedly revealing in 2019 that the firm had acquired 25 companies that year alone but, for one reason or another, hadn’t disclosed most of the transactions.
A tech industry hotspot, Israel, in turn, has become a major focus of Apple’s acquisition activities, according to Calcalist. The tech giant currently operates a development center in the country, with 1,500 employees and offices in Herzliya and Haifa.
An online news site that has also been following the story offers a more detailed explanation of the technology developed by Camerai that apparently caught Apple’s eye.
Camerai developed “a range of software-based AR tools to help edit and use camera-made images in more sophisticated ways,” TechCrunch reported, including “the ability to detect different objects in the picture, and outline them with precision to alter them cosmetically.”