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Amazon app. (Image via Shutterstock.)
Image via Shutterstock

Amazon’s artificial intelligence ambitions are growing, with rumors surfacing today that it purchased an AI startup focusing on image processing.

Amazon acquired Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Orbeus in the fall of 2015, according to an anonymous source that spoke with Bloomberg. In the past, Orbeus developed a neural network-based AI solution to categorize and identify photos.

Orbeus previously offered the solution as a service for other developers under the name ReKognition, but Orbeus’ website says the service is “no longer taking new customers.”

“But we’re up to new/exciting things,” the short note says.

That website is owned by Amazon subsidiary Amazon Technologies. Amazon seems to be secretly building up its AI capabilities. Last month, the company hosted a secret conference on robots and AI.

Orbeus’ tech could be useful to the retail giant in a number of ways.

Its mobile app could use the AI to improve the camera-based search function, or its robots could use the tech to pack boxes with just the right items. Image processing could also help Amazon build its photo storage service into a Google Photos competitor, which analyzes photos for scary-accurate searching. Amazon may even be looking to put eyes (or cameras at least) on the Echo, letting Amazon’s AI assistant, Alexa, help out users with sound and vision.

Amazon and Orbeus haven’t responded to a request for comment on the acquisition.

Previously on GeekWire: Interview: Paul Allen’s artificial intelligence guru on the future of robots and humanity

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