Apple bought real-time video editing startup to boost its AR push

Danish company Spektral erases backgrounds from video, and now Apple owns it.

Apple has doubled down on AR by acquiring Danish machine learning company Spektral, whose software erases backgrounds from videos instantly. The purchase remained quiet until Danish newspaper Børsen broke the news today. Fortune notes that the deal closed in December 2017 for a cool $30 million.

Apple is no stranger to under-the-radar buyouts, and the Spektral acquisition doesn't come as a surprise given the Danish startup's expertise. Spektral, formerly named 'CloudCutout,' uses spectral graph theory and deep neural networks to create what is essentially green screen video editing, but in real time. Spektral takes what was once a painstaking editing process and reduces the heavy lifting to a simple command. The implications are many for the iPhone, but perhaps more interestingly for Apple's anticipated AR hardware.

With rumors of a standalone headset release in 2020, along with Apple's continued attention to ARKit, the Spektral purchase makes total sense. Animojis and Memojis already hint at where Apple could go with their AR capabilities, and Spektral's tech fits with that direction. Apple's proprietary AR headset is anticipated to be one of the most advanced of its kind, and the addition of Spektral's intelligent green screen technology gives us another hint about where Apple's AR ambitions are heading.