Intel Buys Computer Vision Company Itseez in Self-Driving Car Push
The latest acquisition by Intel could give it a big leg up in the race to develop Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous driving technology. The chipmaker signed an agreement yesterday to acquire computer vision software company Itseez Inc. The 11-year-old San Francisco-based firm will become part of Intel’s IoT Group (IOTG).
“Intel is focused on delivering end-to-end IoT solutions addressing devices, wired and wireless networks and the cloud,” Doug Davis, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s IOTG, wrote yesterday in a blog post. “The IoT future we’re building for our customers is exciting, and the talented team at Itseez will help us get there, faster.”
Intel Pivoting to IoT
Itzeez specializes in developing algorithms and implementations for embedded and specialized hardware. The company is also responsible for software tuning and integration in a number of different products, including automobiles and security systems.
Intel said that the acquisition will further its efforts to compete in IoT market segments, such as automotive and video, where the ability to electronically perceive and understand visual information is becoming increasingly important.
Davis said the development is part of Intel’s strategy to transform itself from primarily a PC chipmaker to a company that powers cloud and connected smart devices. One of the IoT segments where Intel sees a particular opportunity is autonomous driving (pictured above), Davis noted.
Americans spend around 75 billion hours a year driving, according to Intel. And Morgan Stanley has estimated that self-driving vehicles could potentially deliver $507 billion in annual productivity gains, among other possible benefits.
“While the possibilities are exciting, the reality requires solving a myriad of technology challenges,” Davis said. “Solutions will need to seamlessly deliver a combination of compute, connectivity, security, machine learning, human machine interfaces and functional safety.”
More than Just Automotive
Autonomous driving technology appears to be on the brink of a revolution, with companies from Google to Uber to Tesla either developing their own platforms or looking to partner with other companies.
To compete in the rapidly growing industry, Intel said it has been adding capabilities to its automotive portfolio such as functional safety and over-the-air software management. Computer vision would be a key component in any self-driving automotive platform.
Computer vision includes methods for acquiring, processing, analyzing, and understanding images from the real world to make informed decisions and automate actions, according to Intel. Computer vision technology is also becoming a critical feature for smart and connected “things” from autonomous vehicles, security systems, medical imaging, and more.
Itseez will also play a key role in other application areas where Intel aims to compete such as digital security, surveillance, and industrial inspection. Intel said it sees the Internet of Things evolving through three distinct phases. The first is to make everyday objects smart and the second phase is to connect previously unconnected objects to the cloud.
“The third is just emerging, when devices will require constant connectivity and will need the intelligence to make real-time decisions based on their surroundings,” David said. “This is the ‘autonomous era,’ and machine learning and computer vision will become critical for all kinds of machines -- cars among them.”