Apple confirms acquisition of motion capture firm Faceshift

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2015
Months after rumors claimed Apple was behind the mysterious acquisition of real-time motion capture technology firm Faceshift, the Cupertino, Calif., company confirmed the purchase on Tuesday, but declined to offer details on the matter.




Apple offered its usual boilerplate statement to TechCrunch, saying it buys smaller technology companies "from time to time," but does not normally discuss plans for acquired assets. The publication said it was able to get a confirmation after finding "sources and conclusive links" to Apple's involvement.

Initial reports in September cited documents showing Faceshift was indeed purchased by an unnamed outside company. One of the new corporate directors taking over control of Faceshift's IP, at least on paper, was an attorney from Baker & McKenzie, a firm known to work with Apple on quiet takeovers.

According to TechCrunch, a number of former Faceshift employees continued on at Apple and now work out of the company's European offices.

Before being purchased by Apple, Faceshift developed powerful facial recognition software that helped power advanced motion capture technology capable of real-time, low-overhead processing. Using 3D sensors and a camera, Faceshift's tech eschews the need for traditional motion capture rigging, specifically the stick-on reference markers often seen being worn by actors in animated or CGI-heavy live action movies. Most notably, the tech was used to map human-like gestures onto the faces of certain characters in the new "Star Wars" film.

Faceshift was known for a product called Faceshift Studio, which incorporated the firm's facial recognition software with support for Maya and Unity. Consumer-facing iterations were in development for Skype, though it appears that project has been shut down.

With the Faceshift buy, Apple continues to build out its portfolio of facial recognition technologies, one of the first being Swedish firm Polar Rose in 2010. The company also acquired Israeli company PrimeSense, collaborators on Microsoft Kinect hardware and software for Xbox, in 2013 and holds multiple patents in related fields.

Despite an apparent interest in the technology Apple has only dabbled in consumer product offerings, the most prominent being face-based image sorting in Photos. Future plans could include real-time chat animations for FaceTime, biometric security, new user interface designs and more, though Apple is expectedly mum on the subject.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    I'm assuming Apple will offer this capability to their app developers to make Apple an even more attractive option for games and other apps.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    bcodebcode Posts: 138member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    I'm assuming Apple will offer this capability to their app developers to make Apple an even more attractive option for games and other apps.



    I would assume that you assume correctly.

  • Reply 3 of 30
    I would presume to assume that this means improved selfies that allow you to look like a troll.
  • Reply 4 of 30

    My conspiracy theory is that Apple didn't buy Faceshift to make orc faces, they want some future FaceTime-camera enabled device to read your face for emotional context.

  • Reply 5 of 30
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    This is amazing.

    I've been saying it but this gen's Apple TV isn't the big one they've been working on for years. It's just a quick refresh to keep up. We know they were taking too long and falling behind terribly.

    Can't wait to see what they can offer developers and consumers with this tech. Sounds like kids would have a blast with this if it came with ?tv.
  • Reply 6 of 30
    blazar wrote: »
    I would presume to assume that this means improved selfies that allow you to look like a troll.
    That can be accomplished simply by mapping Bill Cosby's face onto one's own.
  • Reply 7 of 30

    Faceshift studio will most likely be used to complement Final Cut Pro and some PrimeSense technologies.

     

    image

     

    image

  • Reply 8 of 30

    Whatever Apple is planning with their acquisition of Faceshift, you can be sure it'll continue to keep their competition in the rearview mirror.

  • Reply 9 of 30
    bluefire1 wrote: »
    Whatever Apple is planning with their acquisition of Faceshift, you can be sure it'll continue to keep their competition in the rearview mirror.

    When Apple has it all done and polished and the whole ecosystem is ready to go, the ads have been shot and major players in place,,, they will announce whatever it is.

    Within 48 hours HP will announce they have a partner and will be doing the same thing. Meanwhile Samsung, will announce they will be doing t too...soon.

    These Apple followers just don't get it. You can't compete with Apple by throwing together some quick piece of shit, while ignoring the whole ball of wax Apple surrounds a product or service.
  • Reply 10 of 30
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,822member
    Great, so more interesting technology will go behind Apple walls for years, and possibly never emerge at all.

    Apple may themselves be innovative, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if their secrecy is a net loss for innovation across the sector (however you'd measure that).

    Not a fan of the machine swallowing up the small, interesting players.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post



    Great, so more interesting technology will go behind Apple walls for years, and possibly never emerge at all.



    Apple may themselves be innovative, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if their secrecy is a net loss for innovation across the sector (however you'd measure that).



    Not a fan of the machine swallowing up the small, interesting players.

     

    Like TouchID?

     

    The chances are that a lot of companies that Apple have swallowed up are contributing to their products in ways you probably don't recognise.

  • Reply 12 of 30
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,822member
    rayz wrote: »
    Like TouchID?

    The chances are that a lot of companies that Apple have swallowed up are contributing to their products in ways you probably don't recognise.
    No doubt. I don't think I said anything contrary to that.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    cali wrote: »

    Can't wait to see what they can offer developers and consumers with this tech. Sounds like kids would have a blast with this if it came with ?tv.

    Ohh ...

    And FaceTime, too ...
  • Reply 14 of 30

    A few years ago I worked for the Hearing Loss Association of America. They were really excited to hear about Siri but that quickly fanned out because Siri wasn't (and still isn't) very good at speech recognition (I think Google Now has it better). A really interesting application for this technology is automatic lip reading, in combination with voice recognition. That will help millions of American with hearing loss.

  • Reply 15 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,583member
    zoffdino wrote: »
    A few years ago I worked for the Hearing Loss Association of America. They were really excited to hear about Siri but that quickly fanned out because Siri wasn't (and still isn't) very good at speech recognition (I think Google Now has it better). A really interesting application for this technology is automatic lip reading, in combination with voice recognition. That will help millions of American with hearing loss.
    Some of the companies interested in automatic lip reading are not who you might expect
    http://www.google.com/patents/US8442820

    It makes sense they'd be interested tho.
  • Reply 16 of 30
    thrangthrang Posts: 765member
    I'm guessing this will have application in Project Titan.

    Many car companies are adding facial analysis technology to ascertain driver alertness, focus, tiredness, etc., and it seems like this tech could work very well here.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    tgr1tgr1 Posts: 33member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    Ohh ...



    And FaceTime, too ...

    FaceTime is what I was thinking of. Forget the kids. I would love to look like an orc or Putin or a gremlin while talking to the folks. And morphs to an appropriate creature as the watch monitors my heartrate to guess at mood.

  • Reply 18 of 30
    zoffdino wrote: »
    A few years ago I worked for the Hearing Loss Association of America. They were really excited to hear about Siri but that quickly fanned out because Siri wasn't (and still isn't) very good at speech recognition (I think Google Now has it better). A really interesting application for this technology is automatic lip reading, in combination with voice recognition. That will help millions of American with hearing loss.

    Would be great to have this motion capture software apply to sign language also so a non-sign language reading person could use an app for translation of combined face, hands and arms in communication.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    This will be an "amazing" way to automatically add emoticons to iMessage messages.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    larrya wrote: »
    This will be an "amazing" way to automatically add emoticons to iMessage messages.

    Maybe even making your own emoticons with a cartoony version of your face! ????
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