Apple has acquired Faceshift, a well-known Zurich-based startup that develops animated avatars and figures that can mimic a person's facial expressions in real time without the use of markers. Rumours of such an acquisition began in August earlier this year, but it is only now that the company has confirmed the buyout. Financial details of the acquisition are not yet known.
The Cupertino-based company confirmed the acquisition to TechCrunch and offered its standard, dry comment. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Faceshift has previously worked with game and animation studios including Maya and Unity on technologies designed to accurately capture a user's expressions using 3D sensors. The company was also working on real-time avatars for Skype-like video chatting. But most notably, the company's motion capture technology was used in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie.
It is not clear how Apple intends to utilise Faceshift's technologies into its products, but some of its recent acquisitions suggest the company's growing interest in startups working on facial-recognition technologies and virtual reality. Some companies fitting that profile that Apple has acquired in the recent years is PrimeSense, Metaio, and Polar Rose.
There are several possible uses for Faceshift, from generating animated avatars for user interaction, giving a face to Siri, or even creating a facial recognition based authentication system, like Windows Hello. The company could use Faceshift to work on building gaming experiences as well.
Multiple reports suggest that Faceshift employees have joined Apple and are working out of the company's European offices. Which goes on to suggest that Faceshift might discontinue offering its services to other companies.