Apple has acquired a Swiss real-time motion capture startup called Faceshift for an unknown amount, according to TechCrunch.

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The company’s virtual reality technology can be used to generate animated avatars and other computer generated figures that capture a person’s facial expressions in real time.


There were reports out earlier this year that Apple had already acquired Faceshift but these were unconfirmed.

TechCrunch, however, claims to have multiple sources and conclusive links between the companies.


When TechCrunch put the acquisition claim to Apple, the Cupertino firm said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Apple has used this response in the past to comment on acquisitions.

A number of Faceshift employees now work for Apple outside Europe, according to TechCrunch.


It’s currently unclear how Apple will use Faceshift but the company’s technology is already being used in a number of areas.

For example, Faceshift allows gamers to control their on-screen avatars by pulling faces in real life. It also allows the movie industry to create avatars that mimic actor’s facial expressions more closely.


Faceshift was used in the latest Star Wars film to make non-human characters appear more real by improving their facial expressions.

It’s possible that Faceshift’s technology could also be used to verify a person’s identity but it’s understood that this is not something the company has focused on yet.


The company was founded in Zurich, Switzerland, by academics Thibaut Weise, Brian Amberg and Sofien Bouaziz. Today the company also has offices in San Francisco and London.


TechCrunch highlights that the London office is led by Nico Scapel, a visual effects expert with an impressive list of film credits.

Apple has already acquired several other companies focusing on augmented reality, motion pictures and facial recognition. In Europe, for example, it’s acquired PrimeSense, Polar Rose, and Metaio. Faceshift could help Apple to further progress its efforts in these areas.

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