The contextual image company Jetpac, which offers an iPhone app that helps users find destinations using shared smartphone photos, has apparently become Google's latest acquisition.
Jetpac's Web site Monday featured a message stating: "We're joining Google!...We look forward to working on exciting projects with our colleagues at Google."
The message also stated that the startup would be removing its apps from the iTunes App Store within days, and planned to end support for its products on Sept. 15. No further details of the transaction were disclosed, and neither Jetpac nor Google responded to requests for comments.
The Jetpac team includes co-founders Julian Green, who is CEO, and Pete Warden, CTO; head of Cathrine Lindblom Gunasekara; and data engineer Dave Fearon.
Images, Big Data and Machine Learning
Founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, Jetpac offers a "City Guides" iPhone app that lets users discover new destinations through contextual searches of photographs that have been uploaded to the image-sharing site Instagram. According to Jetpac's LinkedIn profile, the app "can tell you where the happiest bars are, where to find the most scenic hikes, or hipster coffee places in any city in the world."
Another Jetpac app, Spotter, allows people to point their iPhones at anything and identify what the object is.
The app relies on Jetpac's "Deep Belief" system for "teaching" a phone to recognize objects in real time. Users can do this by taking a short detailed video of the object, along with the object's surroundings: "Then you can scan your surroundings with your phone camera, and it will detect when you are pointing at the object which you taught it to recognize."
Jetpac's Web site describes its approach to apps as "a rare blend of big data, image processing, machine learning, beautiful design and the latest mobile technology."
Expanding the 'Internet of Things'
Although it's known primarily for its search-engine capabilities for human users of the Internet, Google has been actively acquiring numerous technology companies working on the so-called "Internet of things" (IoT). The IoT is aimed at interconnecting all the world's devices -- from home thermostats and washing machines to street-based cameras and sensors on buildings and bridges.
During 2014 alone, Google's acquisitions have included the satellite company Skybox Imaging, a $500 million cash deal announced in June, and the smart-thermostat firm Nest Labs, which it agreed to buy in January for $3.2 billion in cash.
Other companies it has purchased this year include the video monitor firm Dropcam, the drone company Titan Aerospace, the Internet firm SlickLogin, the utility usage monitoring company MyEnergy, the wireless tech provider Alpental Technologies, computing firm Stackdriver, the e-commerce firm Rangespan, the augmented reality company Quest Visual, and DeepMind Technologies, a UK firm specializing in artificial intelligence.