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ARM acquires Apical to boost computer vision offering

Steve Rogerson
May 25, 2016
UK technology company ARM has paid $350m to acquire Apical, which specialises in imaging and embedded computer vision technology that will allow next generation devices to understand and act intelligently on information from their environment.
Apical is one of the UK’s fastest-growing technology companies and its imaging products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and approximately 300 million other consumer and industrial devices including IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.
The acquisition, closed for a cash consideration of $350m, supports ARM’s long-term growth strategy by enabling imaging products for next generation vehicles, security systems, robotics, mobile and any consumer, smart building, industrial or retail application where intelligent image processing is needed. The technology will complement the ARM Mali graphics, display and video processor roadmap with products including Spirit, a power-efficient computer vision technology.
Spirit gives ARM and its partners the ability to address opportunities anywhere that advanced image computing can deliver innovation. It comprises dedicated silicon IP blocks that deliver an on-chip computer vision capability by converting raw sensor data or video into a machine-readable representation of an image.
Apical’s Assertive Display product is based on more than a decade’s research into human vision. It enables screens to adapt to changes in light by overcoming brightness limitations while reducing power consumption. And Assertive Camera is configured as a range of image signal processors and software packages. It delivers advances in performance including high dynamic range, noise reduction and colour management.
“Computer vision is in the early stages of development and the world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here,” said Simon Segars, CEO of ARM. “Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These rely on the creation of dedicated image computing and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”
Apical was founded in 2002 and employs approximately 100 people, mainly at a research and development centre in Loughborough, UK. Its technology has shipped in more than 1.5 billion smartphones, including top-selling premium handsets.
“Apical has led the way with new imaging technologies based on extensive research into human vision and visual processing,” said Michael Tusch, CEO and founder of Apical. “The products developed by Apical already enable cameras to understand their environment and to act on the most relevant information by employing intelligent processing. These technologies will advance as part of ARM, driving value for its partners as they push deeper into markets where visual computing will deliver a transformation in device capabilities and the way humans interact with machines.”
ARM evolved from the need to bring flexible and energy-efficient processing to a range of applications. Some 25 years and more than 86 billion ARM-based silicon chips later, the company’s technology now reaches 80 per cent of the global population. Alongside its Cortex processors, ARM licenses Mali graphics, video and display processors. In 2015 Mali graphics processors became the world’s most shipped IP graphics core.