Virtual Reality

Apple Acquires Zurich Based Motion Capture Company FaceShift

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Apple Acquires Zurich Based Motion Capture Company FaceShift

Some more moves in VR from the tech giant

Apple, staying true to form, has left its moves in the VR market shrouded with secrecy. With rumors circulating earlier in the year that they had made an acquisition of Faceshift. The real-time face animation generator that captures facial expressions from its subject using Carmine 3D sensors. A report cited on MacRumours back in September speculated that the “Swiss real-time motion capture firm Faceshift may have been acquired by Apple in recent weeks.” However this was not confirmed at the time. This rumor has now appears to have been substantiated as a recent announcement from Techcrunch reports, stating “we dug up further sources and conclusive links between the companies” with a spokesperson from Apple responding by saying:

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

FaceShift, a Zurich based company provides a platform that makes motion capture a more accessible practice for developers and consumers alike. Some of its current use cases can be found in the gaming and film industries. The latter of the two being used to create accurate animations of celebrities faces for animated motion pictures. The software was also used in star wars to add realism to 3D rendered faces in the movie.

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Effectively, the ultimate aim of the FaceShift software is to bring animations and avatars to life. Allowing users to add their own Facial expressions and personality to their player character in real-time. The tech could be used inline with some of Apple’s current interests, however, this tech does have some obvious use cases in VR, especially notable in social situations that require, or could benefit from, more than just vocal communication. It’s a general rule of thumb that the majority of human communication in the real world is via ‘nonverbal communication. Having the ability to portray additional forms of expression will no doubt strengthen any VR experience that has a focus on human interaction. This could even carry over in to games like Fated. Where the facial expressions could be used as an input to interact with NPC’s in a game. For example, the action of smiling could be used as queue point for dialogue in the game. There is an obvious downside to using this software in this way with VR. As only the bottom half of the face will be available for capture.

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That said, it it still unknown what Apple actually has in mind for the software, but the acquisition of the company definitely strengthens the idea that Apple have something up their sleeve in this market and is an addition to the list of the potential that VR has to offer. Find out more about FaceShift here.

FaceShift at GDC 2015


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Joseph Smerdon

Founder of VRRelated and a VR enthusiast with a passion for gaming and all things creative. Joseph has an extensive background in the broader entertainment industry and a hunger to deliver Virtual Reality related news and content as the market develops.

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