Qualcomm buys Dutch machine learning start-up, targets “on-device" AI

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Qualcomm has acquired Netherlands-based start-up Scyfer and unveiled a new vision of “on-device” AI.

The purchase of Scyfer, a spin-off from the University of Amsterdam, provides Qualcomm with a deep learning platform that has been used in projects in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and finance.

The chipmaker will retain the expertise of the Scyfer team, which includes founder Max Welling, machine learning research chair at the university.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Scyfer will support Qualcomm’s new strategy to develop AI solutions for end-user devices such as smartphones, which the chipmaker announced today.

The goal is to provide devices with the capability to carry out processing with or without being connected to the network.

According to Qualcomm, hosting AI on devices could provide improved reliability, better privacy protection and more efficient use of network bandwidth.

“We started fundamental research a decade ago, and our current products now support many AI use cases from computer vision and natural language processing to malware detection on a variety of devices — such as smartphones and cars — and we are researching broader topics, such as AI for wireless connectivity, power management and photography,” said Matt Grob, Executive Vice President, Technology, Qualcomm Incorporated.

In 2015, Qualcomm and the University of Amsterdam established a public-private partnership called the QUVA-lab, which explores machine learning applications with images and videos.