Image recognition startup joins Google in France

Googlers having funGoogle has continued its charge on the artificial intelligence market through purchasing French image recognition startup Moodstocks, reports

Moodstocks, founded in 2008, develops machine-learning based image recognition technology for smartphones, which has been described by developers as the ‘Shazam for images’. Financials of the agreement have not been confirmed to date.

“Ever since we started Moodstocks, our dream has been to give eyes to machines by turning cameras into smart sensors able to make sense of their surroundings,” Moodstock said on its website. “Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to join forces with Google in order to deploy our work at scale. We expect the acquisition to be completed in the next few weeks.”

Artificial intelligence is one of the focal points of the Google strategy moving forward, which was confirmed by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the company’s recent earnings call, though the focus can be dated back to the $625 million DeepMind acquisition in 2014. Although DeepMind is arguably the most advanced AI system in the industry, readers recently confirmed in a poll Google was the leader in the AI segment, it has seemingly been playing catch up with the likes of Watson and AWS whose offerings have been in the public eye for a substantially longer period of time.

The recognition tools are most likely to be incorporated into the Android operating system, though Moodstocks customers will be able to continue to use the service until the end of their subscription. Moodstocks will be incorporated into Google’s R&D centre in France, where the team will work alongside engineers who are focusing on the development of Youtube and Chrome, two offerings where there could be a link to the Moodstocks technology.

“Many Google services use machine learning (or machine learning) to make them simpler and more useful in everyday life – such as Google Translate, Smart Reply Inbox, or the Google app,” said Vincent Simonet, Head of R&D centre of Google’s French unit. “We have made great strides in terms of visual recognition: now you can search in Google Pictures such as ‘party’ or ‘beach’ and the application will offer you good pictures without you and have never needed to categorize them manually.”

Last month, Google also announced it was expanding its machine research team by opening a dedicated office in Zurich. The team will focus on three areas specifically, machine intelligence, natural language processing & understanding, as well as machine perception.

Elsewhere in the industry, Twitter completed the acquisition of Magic Pony last month reportedly for $150 million. Magic Pony, which offers visual processing technology, was one of the more public moves made by the social media network, which could be seen as unusual as the platform lends itself well to the implementation of AI. Microsoft also announced the purchase of Wand Labs, building on the ‘Conversation-as-a-Platform’ proposition put forward by CEO Satya Nadella at Build 2016.