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September 20, 2010

IPhone -Apple Rumored to Have Bought Facial Recognition Company Polar Rose


The Apple (News - Alert) “Rumor du Jour” today is that the company has acquired Swedish facial recognition company Polar Rose. Neither company has confirmed the deal, and Polar Rose CEO Carl Silbersky was quoted as saying, “I do not know what this is about.” The rumor mill, however, points to the fact that Polar Rose recently stopped offering public services to Web sites such as Flickr or Facebook (News - Alert), saying only that it planned to start licensing its technology to other companies.

There are a number of companies offering facial recognition apps to the Web services and mobile marketplace. The technologies have varying degrees of success. According to tech blogger Dean Takahashi, Polar Rose's technology is different. “Polar Rose would take the highlights of someone’s face and reconstruct them as a 3D graphics image. That image would contain all of the important points to recognize, but it needed far less data than an image of a face. Rather, the 3D graphics could be described in a series of math equations. That meant that reproducing a face and finding a match could be done much more efficiently,” wrote Takahashi. Polar Rose, based in Malmo, Sweden, currently has about 20 employees. The company's flagship product is FaceCloud, an enterprise face recognition solution. It's an end-to-end scalable server-side solution that allows users to add face recognition capabilities to virtually any service.

Apple already has some facial recognition capabilities built into iPhoto for its Faces app. Polar Rose’s technology, though, would extend Apple's capability, as it can be built into Web applications like MobileMe's collection of online services. Having its very own facial recognition technology would allow Apple to use it in products like iPhoto and Aperture and iOS-based applications that require facial recognition capabilities.

FaceLib is Polar Rose's mobile face recognition solution, and the company already offered a version for iPhone prior to the rumors of an acquisition. Polar Rose also has a version of the FaceLib product for Android (News - Alert); however, that technology is unlikely to go anywhere if Apple now indeed owns the company.


Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison
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