Apple May Have Acquired AI Visual Search Startup Fashwell [Updated]

Apple may have purchased image recognition startup Fashwell, a company that designed an engine able to recognize products in images to make photos shoppable.

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.

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'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.


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.

Update: Apple gained possession of the Fashwell.com domain name on May 1, 2020.

Top Rated Comments

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16 months ago

bet the brains behind the software quit working at  within 5 years. Same old story like w broken record. Imported employees from gobbled up companies never last.

Sure. That’s why everyone from Beats, Intrinsity, and PA Semiconductor all quit.

Oh, wait...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago
If it's like other image recognition software that I've worked with, it's impressive when it formulates the correct answers, and baffling and/or amusing when it gets it wrong.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago
They bought it just to take that horrible company name out of rotation. It’s a public service.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

They’ll replace it with Bakewell. That’d get my interest...

Mmm, Mr Kipling's Cherry Bakewells.

On topic: I love the search functionality in iOS's Photos app; I hope Fashwell's tech is being applied there.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago
now tied to Apple Card
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
16 months ago

Mmm, Mr Kipling's Cherry Bakewells.

Exactly! I sometimes have them shipped here because they’re one of a kind. :)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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