Apple has bought a company that makes computers that can read the expression on people’s faces.
Emotient is the latest in a run of companies focused on image and facial recognition. The deal could be part of the company’s plans to build more artificial intelligence into iPhones and other hardware, apparently with the aim of allowing the software to tell what its user is thinking.
Apple added some artificial intelligence to its phones in iOS 9. That phone can guess at what its user is going to be looking for, and tries to show it on screen for easy access.
It’s possible that the new acquisition is part of that push — allowing for the phone to tell how its owner is feeling and present them with a playlist of loud music if they are feeling angry, for instance.
The company has recently bought other like Faceshift which can analyse faces and Perceptio, which can spot what is in a picture using deep learning.
Apple is just one of a range of companies with interests in facial recognition, which also includes Google and Facebook. But the technology has proved controversial, and most companies don’t turn it on in Europe because of fears that the EU will oppose it.
Apple confirmed the deal with its usual statement. The company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”, it told the Wall Street Journal.
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