Apple acquires Swedish face recognition company - rumor

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company that has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.



Update: According to TechCrunch, the deal was made for $29 million. Neither party has confirmed the acquisition, however.



According to Norwegian website Mac1.no, Apple has purchased Polar Rose (Google translation), a company that specializes in facial recognition. The company offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.



One of the company's products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone's video camera.



Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.



Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.



"The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology," Polar Rose's Thijs Stalenhoef said. "This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated."







Apple has its own "Faces" technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.



In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, before the iPad was announced, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users' faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.



Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user's personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual "sticky notes" that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.



The feature did not end up in the iPad, which lacks a camera in its first-generation version. However, the company is believed to be aggressively pursuing a new iPad equipped with a forward facing camera for FaceTime video chat.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    One of the company's products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video.






    I will never allow such a device to be anywhere in my direct line of sight. It is bad enough that Apple is working on the other spyware previously announced. But this shit is WAY too scary for me.



    Next thing you know, Apple will "offer" to "store" your fingerprints to "help" with "security". DNA samplers built into the keyboard?
  • Reply 2 of 57
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    I will never allow such a device to be anywhere in my direct line of sight. It is bad enough that Apple is working on the other spyware previously announced. But this shit is WAY too scary for me.



    Next thing you know, Apple will "offer" to "store" your fingerprints to "help" with "security". DNA samplers built into the keyboard?



    Faces is completely optional, turn it on in iLife, or don't.



    What are you so paranoid about? Something to hide?
  • Reply 3 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    Faces is completely optional, turn it on in iLife, or don't.



    What are you so paranoid about? Something to hide?



    Why don't you sign your post with your full name and home address, nkhm?
  • Reply 4 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by habermas View Post


    Why don't you sign your post with your full name and home address, nkhm?



    And then post a pic of your wife and kids.



    Not.
  • Reply 5 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    And then post a pic of your wife and kids.



    Not.



    Oh yeah, but we're doing this with Google already anyway. It's storing all my contacts, with their associated photos, so I'm essentially giving them a free pass on my privacy. Apple can't really be worse.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    This doesn't sound good to me at all. What's the point of only recognising Swedish faces? They are only a tiny percentage of the overall population. What about the rest of us?
  • Reply 7 of 57
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    The iPad could definitely do with accounts, much more so than the iPhone. And logging in with your face would be much more secure than with a password.



    Though if/once it comes out, I wonder how long before someone posts a YouTube video of them holding up a photo of someone in front of an iPad and it accepting the login.
  • Reply 8 of 57
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    The iPad could definitely do with accounts, much more so than the iPhone. And logging in with your face would be much more secure than with a password.



    Though if/once it comes out, I wonder how long before someone posts a YouTube video of them holding up a photo of someone in front of an iPad and it accepting the login.



    More secure? Really? Most people have pictures of them on Facebook, making it trivial to hack into a device if you knew who owned it.



    I'm sure there's some clever stuff you could do to detect movement and try to be sure you're seeing a 3D face, but all in all, I'd say face recognition is pretty insecure.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member
    Quote:

    Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user's personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual "sticky notes" that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.



    Unlocking your iPhone/iPad using this would be nice too. This could also be useful in MacBooks and iMacs since they all already have iSight.
  • Reply 10 of 57
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    This doesn't sound good to me at all. What's the point of only recognising Swedish faces? They are only a tiny percentage of the overall population. What about the rest of us?



    You are one dry mofo.
  • Reply 11 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    Oh yeah, but we're doing this with Google already anyway. It's storing all my contacts, with their associated photos, so I'm essentially giving them a free pass on my privacy. Apple can't really be worse.



    We?



    Speak for yourself.
  • Reply 12 of 57
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    We?



    Speak for yourself.



    I know, right? I don't even store my contacts in Address Book since Apple added 3rd party API access to it. They are in a plain text file on an encrypted disk image.
  • Reply 13 of 57
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by habermas View Post


    Why don't you sign your post with your full name and home address, nkhm?



    Because I prefer not to. It's an option.



    Like faces in iLife



    Understand?
  • Reply 14 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    Oh yeah, but we're doing this with Google already anyway. It's storing all my contacts, with their associated photos, so I'm essentially giving them a free pass on my privacy. Apple can't really be worse.



    Google didn't put this ability into everyone's hands through their Android smartphones yet as evidenced by their decision to not put facial recognition into their Goggles application.



    If Apple decides to implement facial recognition on the iphone based on a massive index of identified faces then yes it will become quite a lot worse.
  • Reply 15 of 57
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    And then post a pic of your wife and kids.



    Not.



    Utterly irrelevant.



    You're suggesting that Apple will obtain access to my private photo collection, see the name tags and then somehow use this information? That is not being proposed.



    Faces is really useful and has helped to sort years of family photo's. I also have my name and address on my computer, and at my local blockbuster. I also have a passport and a bank account and a credit card. Care to explain what information apple is storing that any of the latter do not?



    If a private (non government) company has access to my information, it is because I have supplied it.



    I have no problem with this, at all.



    I also don't see what Apple are doing that is so different to any other company on the planet?
  • Reply 16 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    Because I prefer not to. It's an option.






    Got something to hide?
  • Reply 17 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    U

    You're suggesting that Apple will obtain access to my private photo collection, see the name tags and then somehow use this information?



    Nope. But thanks for playing.
  • Reply 18 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    Because I prefer not to. It's an option.



    Like faces in iLife



    Understand?



    I don't think you understand the potential ramifications of this technology. Look up "Google Goggles" and then tell me where to find the option toggle preventing you from being facially recognised by a million smartphone users in a reality where Polarrose's facial recognition technology is linked to a massive index of facebook identities or similar.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Just in case anyone else wants to start wrapping their head in tinfoil. Facial recognition in video and motion/pattern tracking as already employed by most law enforcement agencies, it's nothing new.



    The ability to automatically tag video as you already can do with photo's will be a useful option.



    Not some plot to take over the world.
  • Reply 20 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nkhm View Post


    Faces is really useful and has helped to sort years of family photo's. I also have my name and address on my computer, and at my local blockbuster. I also have a passport and a bank account and a credit card. Care to explain what information apple is storing that any of the latter do not?



    I don't see how your examples of yesterday's functionality is in any way reassuring relative to how this recently acquired technology may turn out to be implemented in the future.
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