CAMBRIDGE CATALYST Issue 05

TECH BYTES WORDS MATTHEW GOODING

The latest news and updates from the Cambridge Cluster

ANOTHER BITE FOR APPLE?

Apple has reportedly taken another bite out of the Cambridge Cluster with the acquisition of an imaging specialist that could put artificial intelligence at the core of the iPhone camera. The California tech giant has apparently purchased Spectral Edge, which is based at Cambridge Science Park. Though there has been no official confirmation of the deal, Spectral Edge’s directors have resigned and been replaced by Peter Denwood, director of corporate law, international, at Apple. The company’s website and social media pages have also gone offline. A spin-out from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Spectral Edge

uses machine learning to adjust images on a pixel-by-pixel level. This means it removes the blur you often get at the boundary between foreground and background in photos, and can also sort out problems such as the correction of colour balance in mixed lighting situations, where half the picture is in light and half in shade. Spectral Edge’s system was initially deployed on TVs, to help improve picture quality for viewers with colour blindness, but the focus switched to smartphones when CEO Rhodri Thomas took over in 2017. He knows a thing or two about doing deals on the West Coast, having been a key player in

The deal represents another significant move into the Cambridge market for Apple"

the sale of smart keyboard business Swiftkey, which was founded by a group of Cambridge graduates before being snapped up by Microsoft in 2016 in a deal worth $250m. The price tag for Spectral Edge, which raised $5.3m in scale-up funding in 2018, is unlikely to have been quite so high, but the deal represents another significant move into the Cambridge market for Apple, which is opening a new research base in the city in 2021. It has had an office on Hills Road since 2015, when it acquired another start-up, voice recognition rising star Vocal IQ. Apple hasn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press.

ISSUE 05 30

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