A Tech Match Made In Heaven
When a giant in the tech world like Apple makes a purchase, everyone knows. Buying a company that provides artificial intelligence capable of recognizing any song, movie, TV show or commercial by just hearing a snippet is an ultra cool move.
The Shazam acquisition appears to be a big hit. Amazingly, Shazam launched almost 20 years ago and the company maintains that at least one billion people have downloaded its app, using it to identify songs and their artists approximately 30 billion times.
The way Shazam works is that it uses a smartphone or computer’s built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of audio to create an acoustic fingerprint. It then compares it against a central database to find a match, which is sent back to the user with potential data about the artist, song and album title.
Shazam and Monetization Problems
If Shazam is so popular, why did they decide to sell their service to Apple?
Although Shazam emerged as one of the most popular smartphone apps on both Android and iOS, with around 1 billion downloads as of last year, the company struggled to find a viable business model, which restricted its revenues to just about $54 million in 2016. While Shazam initially started off by earning commissions from digital music services, who paid it for downloads of songs that users identified via the app, the company also branched off into advertising, leveraging its media recognition technology.
See the full post here: How Apple’s Shazam Acquisition Fits Its Broader Strategy
It’s not like Shazam and Apple are strangers to each other. iPhone virtual assistant, Siri, and Shazam are old friends. As of 2014 and iOS 8, all you have to do is press the home button to wake Siri up and ask her what song is playing.
Android users have to settle for tapping the icon to “Shazam a song,” although Google has announced it will be incorporating it into the Google Assistant sometime in the near future.
Integration of Apple and Shazam with AI
Back to Apple’s purchase of Shazam and how they plan to integrate AI deeper into Siri, possibly being able to suggest similar songs based on a recent Shazam. This video provides more about the acquisition:
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cooke, has high aspirations for his company to be a leader in AI and machine learning. In an interview with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Studio, he refers to an Autonomous Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that could power multiple platforms, including run our smart homes and drive our autonomous cars.
Apple’s Secretive Plans For Autonomous Vehicles
Apple has been rather mysterious about their AI advances for self-driving cars, but the program seems to be picking up steam. Apple’s Director of Artificial Intelligence Research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, spoke about some of the company’s recent developments in machine learning and how they may be applied to other areas such as drones, warehouse assistants, and search robots.
In this post, Mr. Salakhutdinov shares more concerning their plans to integrate AI and road safety:
Wired reports that Salakhutdinov spoke before a group of AI experts at the end of this year’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in Long Beach, California. There, he spoke about how Apple is using machine learning to analyze data to from a vehicle’s cameras. He talked about techniques used in a recently published study on the advances that the company has made in using AI to detect pedestrians and cyclists using LiDAR. But he also revealed efforts on some other projects: software that uses a car’s cameras to identify objects such as cars and pedestrians, as well as the drivable lanes on the road. He also showed off images that demonstrated how the system performed even when camera lenses were obscured by raindrops, and how their software could infer where pedestrians were, even when they were obscured by parked cars.
See the full post here: Apple’s AI director on advances in machine learning for its self-driving car project
Apple has been investing heavily in augmented reality technology, and since Shazam launched a visual recognition engine in 2015 followed by an augmented reality platform in March of this year, it seems like a good fit for both companies.
Other major players like Facebook are using AI in ways that could be very valuable, such as for suicide prevention. Check out this recent post on how Facebook is using artificial intelligence to prevent suicide.
Apple and Shazam combining AI technology will benefit both in multiple ways by incorporating their broader AR and AI technologies, which many envision as the future of computers and science.