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Facebook Acquires Visual Shopping Startup to Bolster AI Work

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. said it acquired visual shopping and artificial intelligence startup GrokStyle Inc. in a move to bolster the social-media company’s own AI work.

GrokStyle’s technology, which was integrated into Ikea’s mobile app, was simple in practice. A user takes a picture of a piece of furniture and the technology would match it to similar products that could be purchased online. On its website , GrokStyle said it is "winding down" its business, but that it is "moving on as a team" along with its technology. The company didn’t disclose it’s joining Facebook.

“We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook," Facebook spokeswoman Vanessa Chan said in a statement. "Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities.” She declined to disclose a purchase price.

Facebook could use the underlying AI technology and GrokStyle’s employees to bolster its own efforts in the field. The startup’s specific technology also makes sense for Facebook Marketplace, the company’s service for buying and selling items from other Facebook users on its social network.

The First Commercial VR Devices – The EyePhone Head-Mounted Displays. In the late 1960s, the virtual and augmented reality terms were coined, describing the field of technology we know today. This also encompassed the appearance of two of the very first commercial virtual reality devices in the 1980s in the face of the EyePhone 1 and the EyePhone HRX. Developed by VPL research, a company by Jaron Lanier, the devices were extremely expensive, costing as much as $9,400 for the 1 version and $49,000 for the HRX. Customers could also buy gloves that costed $9,000. While the devices didn’t really take off, which is understanding, having in mind their price, they were a major step forward in the development of virtual reality haptics and virtual reality goggles and head-mounted displays.

The GrokStyle purchase marks the second reported acquisition by Facebook this year. Earlier this month, the company bought the team behind blockchain technology company Chainspace for an undisclosed sum. The company purchased at least four firms last year, including startups focused on messaging and AI.


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