Skip to Content

Intel Buys the Company That Gives Machines “The Power of Sight”

By buying the startup Movidius, Intel hopes to get a piece of the action in computer-vision chips.
September 6, 2016

Having missed out on the mobile chip market, and lagging behind in supplying the hardware for the burgeoning field of AI, Intel wants to acquire its way to the vanguard of the next emerging trend. Its latest move: buying up Movidius, a firm that makes computer vision chips used in drones and smart devices.

The self-stated mission of Movidius, one of MIT Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies of 2016, is to give machines “the power of sight,” a goal they primarily achieve using their “vision processing units.” The chips have already found their way into drones made by DJI, where they are used to sense and avoid obstacles, and Google’s augmented reality system Tango.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich goes for a spin in some Movidius-powered gear.

In a statement, Movidius cited Intel’s RealSense technology as a reason why the deal was a good fit—Intel was already on the path to advanced computer vision using its own 3-D cameras. Josh Walden, a senior vice president at Intel, says software as much as hardware makes Movidius useful to the company. Movidius’s deep-learning algorithms are tailor-made for computer vision, and Walden says Intel sees great promise (read: big bucks) in the realm of devices that can see and make sense of their surroundings.

Nvidia, which dominates the market for deep-learning-focused chips, is bound to give all comers a run for their money. But Intel is betting that even though the deep-learning market is still very small compared to the company’s overall revenue, purchasing Movidius gets it in on the ground floor of the next big thing.

(Read more: Recode, “50 Smartest Companies, 2016,” “The Next Must-Have Smartphone Feature,” “Intel Outside as Other Companies Prosper from AI Chips”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

It’s time to retire the term “user”

The proliferation of AI means we need a new word.

The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Sam Altman says helpful agents are poised to become AI’s killer function

Open AI’s CEO says we won’t need new hardware or lots more training data to get there.

An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

Synthesia's new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.