Google acquires machine learning startup Moodstocks to help visual recognition for smartphones

An artists impression of artificial intelligence and robotics - image courtesy of DFC

Tech giant Google has added to its vast technology services stable by acquiring Paris-based startup Moodstocks, which has developed machine learning based image recognition technology for smartphones.

The acquisition by Google will see it add the recognition technology of Moodstocks to its already large number of services it offers which use machine learning, such as Google Translate, Smart Reply in Inbox and the Goggle app.

With many of its services already relying on machine learning technologies, Google’s acquisition of Moodstocks will help with implementing visual recognition.

The Moodstocks team of engineers and researchers, based in Paris, developed new algorithms for Visual pattern recognition and machine learning, as well as a technology for the recognition of images and objects via mobile devices.

Head of the R&D Center of Google France, Vincent Simonet, wrote in a blog on July 7 to announce the deal, said that while great steps forward were taken by Google in terms of Visual recognition, there was still much to be done in this area, stating that the company expects that to be where Moodstocks comes into its own.

Mr Simonet also said that Google France was eager to collaborate with the Moodstocks team, and that in addition to having a team of operational researchers, the French startup would contribute to the development of YouTube, Chrome and the Cultural Institute.

Google’s focus on machine learning

Google’s acquisition of Moodstocks comes two weeks after Twitter acquired Magic Pony to advance its own machine learning smarts for improving the user experience of photos and videos on its platform.

In a statement on its website announcing it was joining Google, Moodstocks said the company’s dream had been to give eyes to machines by turning cameras into smart sensors able to make sense of their surroundings.

The French startup, which was founded in 2008, also said that after introducing on-device image recognition in 2012, it had been working on extending its reach to object recognition for the past 2.5 years using deep learning based approaches.

Moodstocks said its focus will be to build great image recognition tools within Google, and that it expected the acquisition to be completed in the next few weeks.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Moodstocks has already put its website into a holding pattern, with just a simple message viewable regarding the Google purchase, and is reportedly set to discontinue its image recognition servers soon.

Object recognition has boundless applications

Object recognition is one of the more difficult problems for machine learning and something Google has been working on for the last few years, such as is 2012 patent for automatic object recognition in videos, which makes its acquisition of Moodstocks such a vital one and an asset to its services which rely on machine learning technologies.

Object recognition is expected to have a multitude of uses, including for robots and augmented reality, as well as numerous applications in the industrial, retail and entertainment markets.

The purchase of Moodstocks is the latest in a line of acquisitions by Google of French tech companies, which has also recently included FlexyCore, which was purchased to help the company improve smartphone performance.

Google also acquired object recognition startup DNNresearch in 2013 and has made a number of acquisitions to improve its image recognition technology, including JetPac and PittPatt, in order to improve its facial recognition technology.