Apple Inc. has acquired the rights to Faceshift, a start-up motion capture company that gained notoriety from their work in the Star Wars films.
The Zurich-based company was part of the character design process in the new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Their specialty, as their name suggests, is creating realistic facial expressions for animated characters that can convey a wide array of emotions.
As is typical with Apple, they were very ambiguous with the reasons for their purchase.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” a spokesman said in a statement.
For now, any suggestions of what they will use the company for is pure speculation. Most guesses involve some sort of facial recognition purpose, for security or otherwise. What is known is that Faceshift employees are already working under the Apple name from their office in Switzerland.
Faceshift joins the ranks of augmented reality firm Mataio, facial recognition firm Polar Rose, and 3-D scanning house PrimeSense as small businesses that have recently been swept up by Apple. All have capabilities in augmented reality, and each could complement the others.
Faceshift was founded by Thibaut Weise, Brian Amberg, and Sofien Bouaziz as a spinoff from the Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The school originally owned two of Faceshift’s facial animation patents but they were transferred to Faceshift at the end of August of this year, just ahead of the transition to Apple.
Faceshift later added offices on the West Coast and London, headed by film and gaming industry vet Doug Griffin and visual effects specialist Nico Scapel, respectively. Prior to Apple’s acquisition, Faceshift had a website that offered a demonstration of how it worked, along with some support documentation for developers using it.
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