Intel buys computer vision chip maker Movidius

Steven Loeb · September 6, 2016 · Short URL:

Intel will use Movidius' technology in its RealSense camera

Devices are entering a new phase now, where they have to not only do their job, but also be smart. They have to function, and be able to learn, at the same time. 

That's why Intel has acquired Movidius, a company that designs specialized low-power processor chips for computer vision, it was announced late Monday. No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

Founded in 2006, Movidius currently works with customers like DJI, FLIR, Google and Lenovo to give sight to smart devices including drones, security cameras and AR/VR headsets. 

"When computers can see, they can become autonomous and that’s just the beginning. We’re on the cusp of big breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. In the years ahead, we’ll see new types of autonomous machines with more advanced capabilities as we make progress on one of the most difficult challenges of AI: getting our devices not just to see, but also to think," Remi El-Ouazzane, CEO of Movidius, wrote in a blog post

Intel plans to integrate Movidius’ technology with its RealSense depth-sensing camera technology. Earlier this year, the company introduced the RealSense Camera R200, its first long-range depth camera for 2 in 1s and tablets, allowing for 3D scanning, as well as immersive gaming and shopping, 

"With Movidius, Intel gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for accelerating computer vision applications. Additionally, this acquisition brings algorithms tuned for deep learning, depth processing, navigation and mapping, and natural interactions, as well as broad expertise in embedded computer vision and machine intelligence," Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group, wrote in a blog post.

"Movidius’ technology optimizes, enhances and brings RealSense capabilities to fruition."

While Intel plans to use the chips in its cameras for now, they could be used in numerous other devices, most notably a VR headset that Intel is currently developing. Earlier this month, the company unveiled Project Allo, what it describes as "an all-in-one virtual reality solution."

While being integrated into Intel, Movidius will continue to offer its services to existing customers.

"Movidius’ mission is to give the power of sight to machines," wrote El-Ouazzane.  "As part of Intel, we’ll remain focused on this mission, but with the technology and resources to innovate faster and execute at scale." 

Movidius had raised $86.5 million in venture funding, from investors that included AIB Seed Capital, Atlantic Bridge, Capital-E, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Summit Bridge Capital, among others.

This is Intel's sixth acquisition of the year. It also bought Ascending Technologies, a developer and manu­facturer of micro UAS, in January; followed by the acquisition of video 3D reconstruction technologies company Replay Technologies in March. Intelthen bought semiconductor functional safety company Yogitech in April, and purchased customized computer vision software provider Itseez in May. 

The company most recently acquired deep learning startup Nervana Systems earlier this month. 

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