On the heels of getting approved for facial recognition patent on Dec 29, Apple announced that it has acquired Emotient, a facial expression and emotion detection technology.
According to WSJ, An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the purchase with the company’s standard statement after an acquisition, saying Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” She declined to elaborate on the deal terms.
Emotient, based in San Diego, had previously raised $8 million from investors including Intel Capital. The company had been seeking a new round of venture-capital financing, but wasn’t able to secure it on favorable terms according to a person familiar with the matter.
2015 had been a very active year for Apple in the area of facial recognition both in terms of patents as well as in terms of acquisition (Acquisition of Swiss company Faceshift).
Apple’s latest patent on this technology, approved on Dec 29, 2015 clearly highlights some of the objectives around using the facial recognition technology.
Patent # 9,223,397 covers aspects of multiple use cases for visual recognition. One problem with personal computing devices, according to the patent is that devices often cannot efficiently determine whether certain users have the authority to perform certain functions of the personal computing device. For example, to access a restricted computer application, a user may be required to actively enter a password. Accordingly, there is a need for a more efficient and reliable user access control mechanism for personal computing devices. This is where the facial recognition comes into play by allowing ability to use facial recognition for secured access purposes.
We think that there is more to come in this area. Infact, it will not be surprising if Apple includes new biometric methods based on facial recognition technology in its iPhone 7 lineup this year. Lets wait and see what Apple brings to its devices using this new technology in 2016 and 2017.