San Diego-based facial recognition startup Emotient has been taken over by Apple Inc. The financial terms of the deal have not been revealed. This is the third startup acquired by Apple in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), the previous two being Perceptio and VocalIQ.
Emotient, founded in 2012, has been among the leaders in automated facial expression recognition and analysis, attempting to redefine the future of personal computing. Its services include delivery of direct measurement of a customer’s unfiltered emotional response to ads, content, products and customer service or sales interactions. Founded by Marni Bartlett, Marian Bartlett and three others, the startup had received $8 milllion in two rounds of funding, the last being in 2014.
Although it is not revealed how Apple would be making use of the technology acquired, it is obvious that it would be using the software to further strengthen its capabilities in the AI domain. Camera software that can read subtle facial movements could allow for more advanced search features (such as specific persons or objects) in the photos on the iPhone. Apple’s rival in the smartphone software, Google, already has an app that uses machine learning to organize photos based on their content with a good deal of success.
Earlier, a founder of Emotient had called healthcare a major area for the company. Facial expressions convey important information about a person’s health. Apple is also reported to be making a major foray into health. Its Health app is a dashboard for data like heart rate, steps walked, calories burnt, and more. In this area, it could make use of Emotient’s technology to further expand its health indicators. Whatever it is, there are exciting times ahead for the ultimate users who would certainly have more power at their fingertips!