Apple Admits It Bought Face Recognition Firm Faceshift

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Rumors had been swirling since September regarding the identity of the purchaser of facial recognition and motion software firm Faceshift, and we finally got the answer on Tuesday, November 24th. It was, as many had surmised, tech titan Apple who snapped up Faceshift, as the iPhone maker finally ‘fessed up to the acquisition after TechCrunch managed to dig up some pretty convincing secondary evidence, including tracking some former Faceshift employees to Apple’s European headquarters.

Apple owns up to Faceshift acquisition

Aside from admitting it was the buyer, Apple would not provide any further color, saying it buys smaller technology companies “from time to time,” but does not discuss its plans for acquired assets in most cases.

When news first came out in September that Faceshift had been bought by an anonymous party, it was noted that one of the new corporate directors taking over control of Faceshift’s IP  was an attorney from Baker & McKenzie, a law firm that has helped Apple with quiet takeovers in the past.

Apparently, TechCrunch and others did some sleuthing to confirm that several ex-Faceshift employees ended up at Apple and now work out of the company’s European offices, and that was enough to convince Apple to spill the beans.

Faceshift had been developing facial recognition software that was used in advanced motion capture technology capable of real-time, low-cost processing. Using 3D sensors and a camera, Faceshift’s new method eliminated traditional motion capture rigging (the stick-on reference markers often worn by actors). Of interest, the Faceshift’s new tech was used to create the human-like movements of faces of some characters in the new “Star Wars” film.

By adding Faceshift, Apple continues to grow its portfolio of facial recognition technology firms, including Swedish firm Polar Rose in 2010 and Israeli company PrimeSense, who were collaborators on the Kinect hardware and software for the Microsoft Xbox, in 2013. The iPhone maker also holds a range of patents in related fields.

What exactly Apple plans to do with its new expertise in facial recognition and motion technology is not clear. Biometric security is one obvious application, but industry experts say the real payoff will probably be in visual effects for games and /or movies.

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