Faceshift: Apple buys Star Wars motion-capture company

The new Star Wars film is benefitting from Faceshift's technology Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new Star Wars film is benefiting from Faceshift's technology

Apple has purchased the company behind motion-capture technology used in the latest Star Wars film.

Faceshift, a Zurich based start-up, specialises in software that allows 3D animated characters to mimic the facial expressions of an actor.

Apple has now bought the company, though it is not known how much the deal cost the tech giant.

It is also unclear what Apple's plans are for the company following its acquisition.

A spokesman said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Faceshift's motion-capture technology has already been used in the film and video game industries and was recently spotted in a behind-the-scenes video for the new Star Wars film.

Virtual reality?

There has been some speculation online that the acquisition could be part of an initiative from Apple to launch a virtual-reality product in the near future.

Such thinking is not new. Fortune reported in August that an analyst at Piper Jaffray suspected such a strategy after citing - for example - Apple's $32m (£21m) acquisition of the engineering team at Metaio, a company with several VR patents.

However, Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst and gaming specialist at IHS, told the BBC he did not believe the Faceshift purchase suggested a virtual reality endeavour.

"This acquisition fits in with some of Apple's most recent deals which have centred on machine learning and related technologies such as voice recognition, augmented reality and artificial intelligence," he said.

Mr Harding-Rolls said the move could just as easily go on to benefit communication apps such as Facetime or the development of a facial recognition security feature.

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