ARM announced that it acquired Apical for $350 million. This acquisition helps to grow ARM’s already vast presence in the mobile market with a portfolio of advanced image processing technologies.
Prior to the acquisition, Apical had three main product lines, known as “Spirit,” ” Assertive Display” and “Assertive Camera”. The most important of these products is Spirit, which is a processing element designed to convert raw video data into a machine-readable model. This can help with researching and understanding the movements in a scene.
“Computer vision is in the early stages of development and the world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here,” said Simon Segars, CEO, ARM. “Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These solutions rely on the creation of dedicated image computing solutions and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”
ARM likely intends to add Spirit to its ARM processors in order to open the door to a new range of third-party applications.
The Assertive Display technology focuses completely on adjusting the display backlighting. The concept is similar to the technology already in many smartphones, where the display is dimmed in darker environments and brightens when in direct sunlight. The benefits of this technology are quite obvious, as it can reduce power consumption and make reading your smartphone easier without the need to adjust brightness manually.
ARM claimed that the Assertive Display technology acquired from Apical was developed from over a decade of research into human vision, which may enable this technology to perform the job better than other auto-backlight adjusting features currently in smartphones.
The Assertive Camera technology suite actually contains both hardware and software elements to drive cameras. Apical developed in-house image signal processors (ISPs), which will likely be used inside of forthcoming ARM products. The associated software package is capable of adjusting the high dynamic range and performing noise reduction and color management tasks on pictures taken with the camera.
“Apical has led the way with new imaging technologies based on extensive research into human vision and visual processing,” said Michael Tusch, CEO and founder, Apical. “The products developed by Apical already enable cameras to understand their environment and to act on the most relevant information by employing intelligent processing. These technologies will advance as part of ARM, driving value for its partners as they push deeper into markets where visual computing will deliver a transformation in device capabilities and the way humans interact with machines.”
As all of these products ARM gained from Apical were designed to be highly energy efficient and were already being licensed and used inside of a claimed 1.5 billion smartphones, it seems only natural that ARM would target Apical to expand the feature set of its mobile processors. We will likely see ARM begin to push these technologies into its product lineup sometime later this year.
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Next, I bet they'll either acquire or design a neural processing engine.