Twitter is taking new steps to enhance its machine learning capabilities with its recent acquisition of Magic Pony Technology, a London-based technology company that has developed machine learning techniques for visual processing.
According to Twitter, the first steps toward its machine learning investments started with Madbits in July 2014, followed by Whetlab in June 2015. Now, Magic Pony’s team will join Twitter Cortex, a team of engineers, data scientists and machine learning researchers tasked with using machine learning to build new products. According to several reports, Twitter purchased the startup for US$150 million.
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“Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter,” said Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO and cofounder. “Magic Pony’s machine learning technology will help us build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent, so Twitter can continue to be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first. We value deep learning research to help make our world better, and we will keep doing our part to share our work and learnings with the community.”
Magic Pony has been developing machine-learning-based approaches for visual processing on web, desktop and mobile for more than 18 months. It has filed more than 20 international patents and published at major conferences as well. Magic Pony has also given some of its research to international publications and journals from institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard and Microsoft Research, according to the organization’s listing on CrunchBase.
The technology that Magic Pony has developed could improve the quality of images recaptured on smartphones with low-resolution cameras or images taken in low light, according to a report in MIT Technology Review. The company’s approach to processing video footage uses statistical patterns in high-resolution and low-resolution examples, and then it teaches itself what edges and textures should look like, according to MIT. Using this type of system, Twitter can improve how it delivers content to users across their apps.
Except for this acquisition announcement, Magic Pony has kept quiet about its achievements, although a list of some of its 20 patents can be found here.
Magic Pony’s team includes 11 Ph.D.’s. and alumni from top labs in the world who have expertise in computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing, and computational neuroscience. The CEO of Magic Pony, Rob Bishop, will be based out of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, while Magic Pony’s cofounder Zehan Wang and other members will operate out of Twitter’s London office.