Apple announced yesterday that it has acquired Perceptio, a small startup company specializing in technology that lets companies run artificial intelligence systems on smartphones without needing to share much user data, according to Bloomberg.

In addtion to acquiring the company, Apple will also gain Perceptio founders Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone, who have backgrounds in the artificial intelligence field. The pair - who have PhDs from Harvard and MIT, respectively - previously researched AI dedicated to building image-recognition systems that use deep learning.

Perceptio's goal of developing ways to run AI image-classification systems on smartphones without having to "draw from large external repositories of data" fits in with Apple's policy of trying to minimize its usage of customer data and do as much processing as possible on the device. Current image recognition systems mainly rely on cloud computing, the internet and offsite servers for processing, which can be a problem in areas with poor connections.

Although Apple has confirmed the acquisition, it hasn't revealed any terms of the deal. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," said Colin Johnson, a company spokesman.

The move follows last week's news that Apple had acquired a UK-based startup called VocallQ. The firm, which specializes in natural language processing as it applies to automobiles, claimed it had developed a voice assistant that was superior to Apple's Siri. The Cupertino-based company also bought mapping data analytics startup Mapsense in September.

It's been suggested that Apple may be planning to use some of the technology it has gained from these recent acquisitions in its rumored Apple car project, and to improve the AI of its virtual assistant, Siri.