Apple’s latest acquisition is a motion capture technology company called Faceshift. The Zürich-based startup is best known for its facial capture technology in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The iPhone maker has confirmed it has bought the talent, though in true Apple style did not disclose the amount paid.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said the Cupertino giant.
Swiss-based Faceshift develops software programs that can analyze facial movements, which are then exported to a virtual avatar, eventually giving more authentic looking emotions. The software was initially spotted in a behind the scenes Star Wars video from July, which clearly suggested it was being used to animate CGIs of physical alien models.
Apple acquiring Faceshift is yet another indication how technology companies are realizing the immense potential of the concept of Virtual Reality (VR). Back in February this year, Apple was given a green flag for a smartphone powered virtual reality headset patent, something similar to the likes of Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard.
“The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user’s eyes,” the patent said. “The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device.”
Next year is going to be massive for Virtual Reality, as Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR are all set to launch the first consumer version VR headgear in the first half of the calendar year. Even Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens that was unveiled at its hardware event in October is also slated for a 2016 release. The company said that its augmented reality headset will feature “the most advanced holographic computer,” which comes with a CPU, GPU and a holographic processor that can create interactive holographic environments.