Apple buys facial recognition startup RealFace

Apple has reportedly acquired Israeli startup RealFace, a company that specialises in deep learning facial recognition technology, in a possible nod towards future features for its hardware.

Terms of the deal haven’t been revealed, but are said to be “around a couple of million dollars”, according to the Times of Israel.  There’s no word on whether the 10-person team will be relocating, but we’ve asked Apple for confirmation of the deal and additional details.

RealFace’s website is down at the time of writing, and its first app Pickeez no longer seems to be available to download. That app paired facial recognition with an otherwise fairly standard photo gallery for smarter categorisation. Since then, the company focused on user facial recognition for user authentication and verification purposes.

Exactly what Apple plans to do with the technology remains to be seen, but it’s the third facial recognition-related acquisition the company has made in the last two years. At the end of 2015, it purchased another Israeli startup called Faceshift, and in January 2016 it announced the purchase of Emotient, a company that specialised in recognising emotions from images.

All of this now means that Apple has the expertise required to make products that not only recognise you, but also know how you’re feeling too. We’ll update here if Apple responds to our request for comment.

Related: Apple acquires Emotient start-up to help it identify your mood

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Is Apple ramping up for a focus on facial recognition features? Let us know what you think in the comments below!