Spektral FX: Apple buys Copenhagen start-up for $30m

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In its latest magical trick, Apple has bought a Danish start-up to amp up its AR capabilities.

Secretive tech giant Apple acquired Danish visual effects player Spektral for $30m last year, but the news has just emerged now.

Founded in 2014 as CloudCutout by Henrik Paltoft and Toke Jansen, Spektral applies machine learning to image and video editing. Prior to the company’s acquisition, it had raised $2.8m in funding from investors that include Litecap and AMP Ventures as well as a €500,000 investment from SEED Capital in 2015.

Now you see it …

Spektral’s technology combines machine learning with spectral graph theory to move people and objects to different streams of video. The company has invested heavily in R&D and has been racking up patents.

The acquisition could be a vital win for Apple, which is betting heavily on augmented reality (AR). AR played a major role at the company’s recent launch of the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR devices, which are jam-packed with AI technology by virtue of the new A12 Bionic processor, the smartphone industry’s first seven-nanometre chip that is capable of up to 5trn operations a second.

In summing up its technology, Spektral said on its website: “We recognise that deep learning has its limitations and we have solved many of the vital problems by applying spectral graph theory and mathematical models to enhance quality and improve robustness.

“Our methods provide a flexible trade-off between quality and computation time. With close customer interaction and in product learning, we thrive to create unique customer experiences specific to the need of designated customer groups.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com