Apple reportedly acquired AI visual search startup Fashwell

Apple is prone to making acquisitions of smaller companies from time to time. A new report suggests one may have been made late last year.

According to¬†MacRumors, Apple may have quietly acquired a AI visual search startup known as Fashwell. The report states that the startup’s CEO Matthias Dantone, CSO Lukas Bossard, and CTO Michael Emmersberger have all switched their employer to Apple. The change took place in January of 2019, suggesting the acquisition was finalized at some point before the end of 2018.

As far as what their new roles are, Dantone’s LinkedIn profile says they are part of the Apple Machine Learning team. Meanwhile, both Bossard and Emmersberger list their current roles at Apple as machine learning managers.

Adding to the potential acquisition is that five of six former Fashwell employers also list Apple as their current employer, and they all work for the machine learning team as well.

Fashwell developed a visual search tool that made it possible for customers to search for a specific product based on an image of that product.

FASHWELL’s Visual Search is a search by image solution that we distribute through a flexible API. Add a camera icon to every search bar & allow your customers to shop with any image on your mobile applications and website.

Visual Search improves search success and prevents shop drop-offs, and it’s 2x faster than text-based searches – leading to 35% m-o-m growth in usage, higher than any other user channel.

A visual recommendation tool was also part of Fashwell’s creative endeavors. This made it possible for image recognition to power product recommendations. At the time of publication Fashwell’s website is still up and running, but it has not been updated since the end of 2018.

At the time of publication, it doesn’t look like Apple has made any comment regarding the potential acquisition.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are obviously a huge part of Apple’s business model, so this acquisition certainly makes sense.