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Apple May Have Acquired AI Visual Search Startup Fashwell
Fashwell CEO Matthias Dantone, CSO Lukas Bossard, and CTO Michael Emmersberger all list Apple as an employer as of January 2019, suggesting an acquisition in late 2018.
Dantone's LinkedIn profile says that he works on Apple's machine learning team, while Bossard and Emmersberger are listed as machine learning managers at Apple.
Five of six other former Fashwell employees also now list Apple as an employer on their LinkedIn profiles, with many of those also on Apple's machine learning team. Fashwell's website is still up and running, but hasn't been updated since late 2018, and the same goes for the company's Twitter account.
Based on information shared on the Fashwell website, Fashwell developed a Visual Search tool to allow shoppers to search for products using an image.
FASHWELL's Visual Search is a search by image solution that we distribute through a flexible API. Add a camera icon to every search bar & allow your customers to shop with any image on your mobile applications and website.Fashwell's API also supported image tagging to make any image shoppable using its Virtual Search technology, making it easy for companies to auto-tag images with "speed, precision, and at scale." A product tagging API could be used to tag images with different attributes, such as category and design.
Visual Search improves search success and prevents shop drop-offs, and it's 2x faster than text-based searches - leading to 35% m-o-m growth in usage, higher than any other user channel.
Fashwell also offered a visual recommendation tool, allowing image recognition to power product recommendations for product detail pages. Companies could use the feature to embed visually similar products on websites to recommend additional products to customers.
Apple could perhaps adopt Fashwell's technology for its Apple Store website and its Apple Store app in the future, improving the Apple Store shopping experience. We've emailed Apple for comment and will update this article if we hear back.
Apple has acquired several similar AI and machine learning companies over the course of the last few years, including Silk Labs, Laserlike, Perceptio, and more.