Tech: Apple developing an AI dedicated chip (AAPL)
Apple is creating a chip specifically aimed at handling artificial intelligence tasks in its mobile technology
Apple is creating a chip specifically aimed at handling artificial intelligence (AI) tasks in its mobile technology, according to Bloomberg citing a source familiar with the matter.
Known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, the chip will handle AI processes such as facial recognition and speech recognition. Apple will eventually integrate the chip into its hardware, such as iPhone and iPad devices, but it's still in development with no concrete release date. Apple’s new chip is another signifier of the company’s push into AI, which CEO Tim Cook previously stated will be dominant in the smartphones of the future.
Apple’s AI dedicated chip could help devices’ software in a number of ways:
- Battery power: Transferring AI tasks, which are currently handled by a main processor and graphics chip in mobile devices, to a chip dedicated to handling these demanding processes, could lead to increased battery life, according to Bloomberg.
- Augmented reality (AR): The increased processing capability of a dedicated AI chip could allow for more complex AR capabilities on mobile devices, as AR relies heavily on AI tasks such as facial recognition. AR will likely be featured heavily in future iterations of the iPhone, according to comments made by Cook in February.
- Smart assistant Siri: The AI dedicated chip could allow Siri to process data on the mobile device itself, rather than via a remote computer server, according to Phys.org. This could speed up processing time by cutting down on latency — the time it takes for data to be sent from a device to a server and back again — and could lead to faster machine learning (ML).
Apple is playing catch-up to other companies that have already developed this type of AI chip technology. Qualcomm’s recently released Snapdragon 835 mobile processor allows devices to run ML-trained applications directly on the device. And Google has utilized its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which is a chip that has powered Google data centers' processes, such as search and image recognition, since 2015. These releases follow an overall increase in the number of deals as well as the amount invested in AI technology globally, according to CB Insights.
Advancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing them to accurately understand more information, while upgrades to mobile networks are facilitating quick transfers of data to robust clouds, enabling fast response times. In addition, the swell of internet connected devices like smart thermostats and speakers is giving voice assistants more utility in a connected consumer's life.
Increasingly sophisticated voice assistants and the growing potential use cases they can assist in are driving consumers to adopt them in greater droves — 65% of US smartphone owners were employing voice assistants in 2015, up significantly from 30% just two years prior. Consumers are also eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.
However, there are still numerous barriers that need to be overcome before this product platform will see mass adoption, as both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist.
Jessica Smith, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the voice assistant landscape that explains what's driving the recent upsurge in adoption of digital voice assistants. It explores the recent technology advancements that have catalyzed this growth, while presenting the technological shortcomings preventing voice assistants from hitting their true potential.
This report also examines the voice assistant landscape, and discusses the leading voice assistants and the devices through which consumers interact with them. Finally, it identifies the major barriers to mass adoption, and the impact voice assistants could have in numerous industries once they cross that threshold.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- Voice assistants are software programs that respond to voice commands in order to perform a range of tasks. They can find an opening in a consumer’s calendar to schedule an appointment, place an online order for tangible goods, and act as a hands-free facilitator for texting, among many, many other tasks.
- Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable. These improvements fall into two categories: improvements in AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning; and gains in computing and telecommunications infrastructure, like more powerful smartphones, better cellular networks, and faster cloud computing.
- Changes in consumer behavior and habits are also leading to greater adoption. Chief among these are increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated by younger consumers.
- The voice assistant landscape is divided between smartphone- and speaker-based assistants. These distinctions, while important now, will lose relevance in the long run as more assistants can be used on both kinds of devices. The primary players in the space are Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Samsung's Viv.
- Stakes in the competition for dominance in the voice assistant market are high. As each assistant becomes more interconnected with an ecosystem of devices that it can control, more popular platforms will have a sizable advantage.
In full, the report:
- Identifies the major changes in technology and user behavior that have created the voice assistant market that exists today.
- Presents the major players in today's market and discusses their major weaknesses and strengths.
- Explores the impact this nascent market poses to other key digital industries.
- Identifies the major hurdles that need to be overcome before intelligent voice assistants will see mass adoption.
Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:
- Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. » START A MEMBERSHIP
- Purchase & download the full report from our research store. » BUY THE REPORT