Apple snaps up home security camera maker Lighthouse AI after buying its patents

Apple has quietly absorbed home security camera maker Lighthouse AI after buying several of its US patents earlier in the month.

According to The Information today, Lighthouse cofounders Alex Teichman and Hendrik Dahlkamp have joined Apple along with around 20 staff.

In an email to Lighthouse’s former camera testers, co-founders asked for permission to transfer video and sensor data collected through its cameras to Apple. Previously, Lighthouse was collecting data from the cameras to train its machine learning algorithms so they could recognize people and scenes inside homes.

From the article:

The Lighthouse team is expected to continue working on this project at Apple, though it isn’t clear how the company plans to use Lighthouse’s technology in the future, the person said. Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

HomeAlarmReport in its review of the $300 Lighthouse AI camera said it was a big and pricey device with some unique features, calling it “the Google of home security cameras.”

Some of the unique features of Lighthouse include stuff like a 3D time-of-flight sensor for accurate depth sensing, artificial intelligence-based learning and an Ask Lighthouse feature that enables voice and text created pings and search.

Lighthouse wanted to create a device that would be less of a security camera and more of an assistant, and that’s probably why Apple took a keen interest in its patents.

Instead of scrubbing a timeline, Lighthouse takes advance of a natural language processing system that lets people ask advanced questions like, “Did the dog walker come on Wednesday?” or “When did the kids get home yesterday?”, to get relevant footage.

The deal doesn’t seem to be a one-off acqui-hire in this field because last November Apple acquired Silk Labs, a startup which was building a privacy-focused AI-powered cameras and speakers for the home.

“Privacy-focused” fits Apple perfectly.

With two related deals, and maybe others we don’t yet know about, Apple might be building a team that could work on smart home products, like home security cameras.

Apple could also incorporate Lighthouse’s advanced computer vision and AI technology into its autonomous driving project or use Lighthouse technology to boost its own computer vision algorithms.

In a “Lights out” message to employees earlier in March, Teichman wrote that “Unfortunately, we did not achieve the commercial success we were looking for and will e shutting down operations in the near future.”


Image: The Lighthouse AI home security camera, via HomeAlarmReport