Motorola Mobility Buys Face Recognition Developer Viewdle

Google’s subsidiary Motorola Mobility has reportedly paid between $30 million and $45 million (£18.6m – £27.9m) for Ukraine-born, Silicon valley-based face recognition software company Viewdle.

Viewdle has been experimenting with image recognition for almost five years, developing everything from augmented reality games to gesture-controlled interfaces. Although the company doesn’t have any products on the market, the technology and patents it developed could transform the way people interact with mobile devices.

Face memory

Viewdle was launched in 2007 with the support of Qualcomm Ventures, Best Buy Capital, and the Blackberry Partners Fund, among others. The company is currently headquartered in Palo Alto, California and employs 36 people, seven of which have PhDs.

Earlier, it was speculated that Google will use the acquisition to offer new features on its Google+ social network. However, Motorola Mobility’s involvement suggests that the technology will be used in smartphones.

On the website, Viewdle describes itself as a company involved in “camera-based innovations in augmented reality, device interaction, media management, gaming and social networking”.

According to TechCrunch, Viewdle had already been in acquisition talks with Google around 2008, and with Motorola in 2011. As the result of the deal, Google will get access to the developer’s portfolio of image recognition patents, which could improve its Google Goggles image search.

Last year, Viewdle released “Third Eye”, the world’s first augmented reality game that used face recognition, designed as a showcase for company’s software and its capabilities. After analysing the smartphone picture, the game would identify if the people around players were vampires or vampire slayers.

Earlier this year, Facebook, one of Google’s competitors in the social network space, acquired Face.com, the company which developed the facial recognition technology that automatically tags photos on its website.

However last week, it had to remove the facial recognition feature across Europe, after being suggested to do so by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.

The Viewdle website already displays a video featuring Motorola Razr and tablets running Android. You can see it below.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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