The news first surfaced courtesy of MacRumors, who pointed out that it appeared that Faceshift’s upper management had been replaced, when three original corporate directors stepped down from their positions. Then the company’s social media accounts fell silent, and any mention of their popular Faceshift Studio software has been removed from their website.A bit of background: Faceshift is a Swiss company that specializes in facial motion capture technology. They have found a way to skirt the traditional facial recognition technology and use a markerless software that analyzes facial expressions and head position in order to create a 3D avatar. From there, users could record facial animation data in real time and export it to other programs and in different file formats. Their most recent endeavor was the production of a Skype plug-in to let users have avatars for live video chat.
Although nothing is confirmed, there are a few reasons that sources believe Apple may have gone ahead and purchased the tech and animation company. For one, the board members who stepped down were replaced by Martin Frey from Baker and McKenzie; a law firm that is frequently used by Apple.
Furthermore, Apple has been pursuing and purchasing small companies that specialize in 3D technology over the past few years. For instance, Apple bought chip-maker PrimeSense in 2013, and a face recognition company called Polar Rose in 2010. In fact, PrimeSense constructed the 3D Carmine sensor that was behind Faceshift’s technology, leading a majority of sources to believe that Apple was behind Faceshift’s purchase.
For now, Apple and Faceshift are tight-lipped about what a potential partnership could mean. We can speculate that if Apple acquired Faceshift, they may use Faceshift’s technology in cooperation with FaceTime, or may bring the technology to cameras in future devices. There’s even talk that Apple may want to use this technology in sync with Apple TV for gaming purposes.
But source AppleWorld.Today notes that Apple has had some ideas for the implementation of facial recognition technology for some time now. Previously, Apple acquired patents for “locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition” and a “lens array projector” for 3D mapping.