Apple Confirms Acquisition of Star Wars Motion-Capture Firm

By Chris Mills on at

Apple, a maker of expensive aluminium-and-glass contraptions, might not be the obvious first buyer for Faceshift, a Swiss startup that makes motion-capture tech used in Star Wars. But when you consider how its software can be applied to augmented reality, things get a lot more interesting.

As originally reported by MacRumors and now confirmed by Apple, the tech giant gobbled up Zurich-based startup Faceshift earlier this year. The company’s product is software for ‘real-time motion capture’: using a camera to track your face, movement and expression is identified, and that data is then used to make an animated face come to life. Basically, in real time, it can make you look very much like a troll – like in the lead image.

The software was used to make characters in the new Star Wars films look more lifelike, but special effects isn’t actually the main intended use. Rather, it’s a killer tool for augmented reality applications, because nothing augments reality quite like turning yourself into Chewbacca.

An Apple spokesperson is quoted as saying: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans".

It’s also interesting because of what it says about Apple. The company hasn’t publicly said anything about virtual or augmented reality projects, but it’s been steadily acquiring patents and staff in the field.

Maybe it’s just for some exciting new selfie camera on the iPhone 8? Something to take on Snapchat's stupidly popular face augmentation tech? What could you see this being used for in the near future? [TechCrunch]

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