Apple has revealed that it acquired Swiss startup Faceshift earlier this year, a motion capture company whose technology was used on the production of Star Wars.
Faceshift’s facial recognition technology is used to capture an actor’s expressions, without the need for markers. The expressions can then be transferred to a 3D model in real time. Most impressively, this technology was used to make alien races emote in a more believably “human” way in the latest Star Wars movie.
In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesperson stated that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” This leaves the door open for much speculation, as it’s not initially clear how a company specializing in motion capture technology fits into any of Apple’s existing products or services.
Faceshift’s tech has mainly been used in videogame and movie production so far, but it’s possible Apple could harness the facial recognition technology for security purposes. Or maybe it just wants to improve the world’s selfie game by adding more interactive features to the Camera app?
More excitingly, it’s possible Apple is exploring the world of virtual reality. Faceshift is the latest small company Apple has snapped up in this field, after acquiring 3D sensor firm PrimeSense, facial recognition experts Polar Rose and augmented reality company Metaio over the past few years.
Many Faceshift employees are reportedly working out of Apple’s European offices already, so with any luck we’ll find out what they’re working on before too long.