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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Apple Buys Motion Capture Startup Technology Firm Faceshift, Maker of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

The new Apple secret lab is tasked to develop new display technologies.

(Photo : Getty Images) The new Apple secret lab is tasked to develop new display technologies.

Apple is buying Faceshift, a Zurich-based startup which developed a technology that creates animated avatars and other figures capable of capturing the facial expressions of a person in real time.

Apple made the interesting acquisition to extend further its role in the space of the growing market for virtual reality technology.

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An Apple spokesperson confirmed the acquisition with its customary statement on Thursday. Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time with no further discussions on the company's plans or purpose.

Developing animation technology nowadays is costly and time consuming to implement, but it is also making an appearance at the highest level. The latest upcoming 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' film is using this technology to make nonhuman characters more human-like with their expressions.

Academics Thibaut Weise, Sofien Bouaziz, and Brian Amberg founded Faceshift in Zurich. They are from the Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Faceshift may also support enterprising applications using facial recognition for identification or security purposes. Visual effects in areas like gaming and filming are its main focus.

In gaming, avatars are used to alter faces based on the actual expressions of the players for a more immediate and realistic experience. Whereas in film production, the process of animating characters is used to improve to be able to closely mimic the facial movements of the actors.

In addition to Faceshift, patents and assets across motion capture, facial recognition, and augmented reality that Apple has now are because of three other European acquisitions, PrimeSense, Metaio, and Polar Rose.

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