Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
A customer uses the Siri voice-activated digital assistant on an iPhone at an Apple Store in Hong Kong. Apple has been buying up a number of tech start-ups to boost the functionality of Siri on its various devices. Photo: Bloomberg

Apple buys machine-learning start-up to improve data used in Siri

  • The technology giant has bought start-up Inductiv, which uses artificial intelligence to automate the task of identifying and correcting errors in data
  • That follows Apple’s acquisition of start-up Voysis to boost speech recognition in Siri

Apple has bought machine-learning start-up Inductiv, adding to more than a dozen artificial intelligence-related acquisitions by the technology giant in the past few years.

The engineering team from Waterloo, Ontario-based Inductiv joined Apple in recent weeks to work on Siri, machine learning and data science. Apple confirmed the deal, saying it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”.

Inductiv developed technology that uses AI to automate the task of identifying and correcting errors in data. Having clean data is important for machine learning, a popular and powerful type of AI that helps software improve with less human invention.

The work falls under the category of data science, a key element of Apple’s broader machine-learning strategy. In 2018, the company brought on several engineers from Silicon Valley Data Science, a consulting firm that focuses on this field.

iPhone 12, 5G support, new Apple Watch ... what else can we expect from Apple this year?

John Giannandrea, the Apple executive in charge of Siri and machine learning, has been upgrading the underlying technology that goes into the Siri digital assistant and other AI-powered products from the company.

Inductiv was co-founded by machine-learning professors from Stanford University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The professor from Stanford, Christopher Ré, previously co-founded another AI company, Lattice Data, that was bought by Apple in 2017. It is unclear if Ré, or the other Inductiv co-founders, Theodoros Rekatsinas and Ihab Ilyas, have joined Apple.

Apple has bought several other AI and data companies in recent years, including, Tuplejump, Laserlike, Turi and Perceptio.

This year, Apple bought Voysis to boost speech recognition in Siri, virtual-reality start-up NextVR and the popular iPhone weather app Dark Sky.