Apple confirmed that it acquired Seattle-based Xnor.ai AI firm (via MacRumors). Apple acquisitions occur frequently, but on the day of their announcement, they rarely impact everyday people. This is new and different.
Since the last summer, Xnor.ai has been used by Seattle-based Wyze business cameras of the fellow, including the Wyze Cam V2 and Wyze Cam Pan. Nevertheless, it is not now available as Apple owns the company. Several users in the Wyze forum note that beta software has already begun to carry out the people detection.
Strangely enough, the word of this lapse of service is nothing new. In November 2019, Wyze issued a statement announcing that Xnor.ai had terminated its contract (although its justification for doing so was not as apparent then as it is today) and that a firmware update planned for mid-January 2020 would disable the functionality from those cameras.
There is a positive side to this setback, though, even though Apple’s snapping up Xnor.ai, in the meantime, makes Wyze’s inexpensive cameras less appealing. Wyze says it is preparing for launch at some stage this year on its in-house version of people detection. And whether it runs on-device through “edge AI” computing like does Xnor.ai, or by authenticating through the cloud, when it launches, it will be free for users.
That’s great and all, but the year has just started, and it’s a bit worrying that Wyze hasn’t followed up with a specific time frame for its feature replacement. Wyze’s social media community manager said two days ago that the company was “making great progress” on its forums, but they were not offering up when it would be open.
Everything Apple is going to do with Xnor.ai is anyone’s guess. The AI startup had developed a small, wireless AI camera, which ran exclusively on solar power, before its partnership with Wyze. Regardless of whether Apple is more interested in its edge computing algorithm, as was seen working on Wyze cameras for a short time, or its smart hardware ideas around AI-powered cameras, it’s getting all of it with the purchase.