Doug Griffin demonstrates Faceshift expression tracking with a depth sensor made by PrimeSense. Apple quietly bought PrimeSense in 2013.
Prior to being acquired by Apple, Zurich-based real-time motion capture firm Faceshift worked with game and animation studios on technology designed to quickly and accurately capture facial expressions using 3D sensors, including Faceshift Studio software with plugins for Maya and Unity. The company was also working toward consumer-facing software like a Skype plugin that would support real-time avatars for video chat.
Based on Swiss company registry filings, Faceshift was acquired by Apple in mid-August. Faceshift launched in 2011 out of the Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and in mid-2013, the company expanded and brought on industry veteran Doug Griffin, formerly of Industrial Light & Magic and Electronic Arts, to head up a San Francisco office. Faceshift has demonstrated its motion capture technology multiple times in the past few years, most recently demoing it at GDC 2015.
It is not clear what Apple will use Faceshift’s Technology for, but there are a wide range of possible use cases. Faceshift’s real-time motion capture work in the gaming and chat arena could be used for things like real-time avatars for FaceTime video chats, but there are also more serious applications such as biometrics for unlocking devices or authorizing payments through facial recognition techniques.
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