Apple Buys AI Video Compression Tech Company, Could Help It Make Streaming Cheaper and Better
Mountain View-based WaveOne makes a technology that focuses limited bandwidth resources on things like faces rather than backdrops
Apple has quietly acquired a Silicon Valley startup that could help make Apple TV Plus streaming cheaper, more efficient and better.
Privately funded with $9 million, according to CrunchBase, WaveOne makes an artificial intelligence-based video compression software that can devote limited bandwidth to vital on-screen elements like faces, while minimizing resources to backdrop elements that are less of a focus.
Even minor improvements in bandwidth efficiency can have a significant impact on how much an operation like Apple TV Plus spends to compress and deliver video, not to mention the improvement of the end-user experience.
Apple rarely announces any of the many acquisitions it makes. But TechCrunch noticed a month-old LinkedIn posting from WaveOne business development chief Bob Stankosh.
“After almost two years at WaveOne, last week we finalized the sale of the company to Apple,” Stankosh wrote. “We started our journey at WaveOne, realizing that machine learning/deep learning video technology could potentially change the world. Apple saw this potential and took the opportunity to add it to their technology portfolio.”
As TechCrunch also noted, Google is already using a machine learning algorithm originally developed to play board games to compress YouTube videos, resulting in a 4% reduction in the amount of data the company needs to stream video to consumers. Given the enormous amount of data needed to transmit 4K video over the internet, that is not a small number of 1s and 0s.
Separately, YouTube has rolled in beta live-streaming support for the AV1 video coding format, which delivers superior 4K video in file sizes that are much smaller than with traditional standards. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!