iNority Report: Apple Buys Face-Recognition Co.?

Published on September 20, 2010
by John Paczkowski

Apple is reportedly close to acquiring Polar Rose, a Swedish company that specializes in face-recognition technology–if it hasn’t already. A pair of reports in the Norwegian and Swedish media claim Apple has bought up all shares in Polar Rose, presumably with an eye toward building its facial-recognition technology into mobile devices like the iPhone.

Polar Rose’s offerings don’t require as much processing power as other recognition engines, making them well-suited to mobile phones and the like. More interestingly, they’re powerful enough to identify faces in live photos and video (see clips below). And there is a world of potential applications for that if Apple (APPL) were to incorporate it into iOS, whether it be as a further enhancement to the Faces technology used in its iPhoto and Aperture applications or as some sort biometric security measure. Recall that one early prototype of the iPad was believed to use a camera and facial recognition to differentiate between different users’ faces, switching out personal settings each time the device changed hands and allowing it to be shared within a family.

Is Polar Rose the acquisition that could make that a reality? It’s certainly possible–assuming there is, in fact, an acquisition. And at this point, that’s unclear. Neither Apple nor Polar Rose will comment on the rumored deal. If they do, I’ll update here.

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