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Apple Acquires Israeli Facial Recognition Startup RealFace

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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Machine learning powered facial recognition authentication tech could find its way into iPhones and iPads a couple of generations down the line

Apple has acquired Israeli facial recognition authentication specialist RealFace in a deal estimated to be worth a couple of million dollars.

The startup, which makes use of machine learning techniques to provide facial recognition cyber security technology, was snapped up by the iPhone juggernaut on Sunday, according to the Times of Israel.

RealFace and Apple

RealFaceWhile Apple has kept tight-lipped on its acquisition, as is normally the case with the Cupertino company, RealFace’s website appears to be offline, which would indicate that Apple is moving to quickly bring the startup into its secretive fold.

Formed in 2014 and based out of Tel-Aviv, Israel, RealFace makes use of machine learning technology that can carry out security authentication using facial recognition technology across multiple platforms. It also has a now defunct app called Pickeez, which selected and collated a user’s best photos form a range of platforms through the use of the company’s facial recognition software.

With this in mind, it would not be unreasonable to speculate that Apple will use the technology developed by RealFace to add facial recognition security and authentication to its next batch of iPhones, iPads or MacBooks via the front facing cameras found on such devices.

The Cupertino company could even scrap the Touch ID fingerprint scanner found in its recent batch of smartphones, tablets and laptops in a few generations time; the acquisition of RealFace at this time means it is unlikely that its technology will find its way into the next iPhone or version of iOS.

Equally, Apple could use the startup’s machine learning software in its iCloud and Photos service to automatically create albums and photo streams for users, in a similar fashion to the Photos web and mobile app provided by Google.

 Apple appears to have quite a healthy appetite for Israeli startups, with RealFace being the fourth company is has bought from the nation since 2011, which is known to have a vibrant tech startup scene in Tel-Aviv.

What Apple does with these startups is relatively unknown until the company deems it time to reveal its plans, normally at one of its conferences or during an executive briefing. Time will tell what it does with RealFace, but we can predict that the startups facial recognition technology will not go to waste.

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