A secret Swiss lab may be driving all of Apple's future products

Posted:
in General Discussion
A so-called "Zurich Vision Lab" is now believed to be the clandestine home to an enormous range of Apple research projects, and may be key to the Apple Car, the AR Headset, and the future of Siri.

Zurich
Zurich


In 2017, Apple was revealed to be quietly operating a research facility in Switzerland, and was believed to be recruiting staff to work on the Apple Car. Now new research suggests that the R&D operation is actually contributing significantly to countless long-term Apple projects.

Apple often publicizes its international research facilities, but will be quiet about them if the news would reveal anything about future plans. So AppleInsider, for instance, has previously uncovered a secret facility in Sunnyvale, California.

There has been evidence of a secret car lab in Berlin, too.

MacPrime has been researching Apple's recruitment in Zurich, and talking to people involved, for over four years. While it says that much of its conclusions must remain speculative, since Apple can move teams at any time, it appears that the facility's work has included:

  • Computer Vision

  • Machine Learning (ML)

  • Robotics

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Robotics

  • Autonomous systems

That last topic, autonomous systems, could be related to full self-driving technology for the Apple Car. However, MacPrime stresses that its research did not find any specific Apple Car references.

"However, 'autonomous systems; do not only mean self-driving cars (and thus a possible Apple car), but also a variety of other "intelligent" things, such as autonomous warehouses, robots, drones and 'smart cities,'" it says. "The 'autonomous systems' known as the 'fourth industrial revolution' play a fundamental role in machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence and the entire field of computer vision."

Seemingly quoting from Apple recruitment posts, MacPrime says that the Zurich research center is an "interface between modern ML, robotics and data science," which will drive "next generation of Apple products."

Similarly, a group in the facility is concentrated on "promoting inclusion and fairness in AI-protected functions," while another is developing "completely new approaches to how to interact with devices."

MacPrime describes this facility as the "Zurich Vision Lab," and says that the work there is done in conjunction with Cupertino. It reportedly contains "offshoots" of Apple's Scene Understanding (SUN), and "Human and Object Understanding" (HOUr) teams.

It's believed that FaceTime's eye contact correction -- where a caller appears to be looking at the camera whether they are or not -- was developed here. Similarly, the Visual Lookup feature introduced in iOS 15, has its origins in Zurich research.

Reportedly, the facility also has teams working on the infrastructure of Siri, as well as its user-facing features. Apple recruitment posts have said that "new visual skills" are being created for Siri, which "will change the way people deal with the world around them."

Apple has not commented on the report, which also says a future Apple web search engine is being worked on at the facility.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,830member
    'Robotics' appears twice in the list.

    'Autonomous Systems' can also refer to data centre networking. That could also be Siri/Cloud, backend related.

    They are often called Autonomous Driving Networks which often confuses people who think the term is car related as there are also different levels. I belive L3.5 is the current highest level.

    https://e.huawei.com/en/solutions/enterprise-network/data-center-network/adn

    In this case it could relate to either or even both. 

    If there is a sizeable amount of research going on in Switzerland, I hope that is shown in their tax filings! LOL. 
    edited May 25 byronl
  • Reply 2 of 12
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,302member
    The upcoming EU laws against AI won't apply to Switzerland. Good planning, Apple.
    watto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 3 of 12
    ToortogToortog Posts: 5member
    So Apple spent years and $$$$$$$ building that giant nipple ring HQ in Silicon Valley but then to go to Switzerland to do the brainy stuff.   Maybe iPhone 15 will have option for a Dragon Tattoo on the back.   
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 12
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 995member
    Apple Cheez can't be too far away!
  • Reply 5 of 12
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,779member
    Looking at the enormous amounts Apple spends on R&D, it should be unsurprising to anyone that Apple has R&D facilities outside California.
    Bart Ywilliamlondonbyronl
  • Reply 6 of 12
    HansJobHansJob Posts: 4member
    If this brain trust is responsible for Siri, ML, AI, etc, why is Siri as just one example, so utterly useless? I’ve seen next to nothing come out of Apple’s possible skunkworks in the last 5 years that I would consider revolutionary or even a considerable improvement. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 12
    williamlondonwilliamlondon Posts: 1,181member
    HansJob said:
    If this brain trust is responsible for Siri, ML, AI, etc, why is Siri as just one example, so utterly useless? I’ve seen next to nothing come out of Apple’s possible skunkworks in the last 5 years that I would consider revolutionary or even a considerable improvement. 
    FYI - MacRumors is more your style.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    byronlbyronl Posts: 274member
    The upcoming EU laws against AI won't apply to Switzerland. Good planning, Apple.
    why not?
  • Reply 9 of 12
    byronlbyronl Posts: 274member
    a lot of interesting info, thank you
  • Reply 10 of 12
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,354member
    The upcoming EU laws against AI won't apply to Switzerland. Good planning, Apple.
    The laws probably won't apply to research labs working on unreleased stuff now, will they. 
    edited May 27 byronl
  • Reply 11 of 12
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,354member
    byronl said:
    The upcoming EU laws against AI won't apply to Switzerland. Good planning, Apple.
    why not?
    Switzerland is not part of the EU. 

    The upcoming EU laws "against AI" (actually, just regulating it) will apply to shipping products, not to research projects, though. 
    byronl
  • Reply 12 of 12
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,386member
    "Apple Car"?!

    Sure.
    HansJobwilliamlondon
Sign In or Register to comment.