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Apple now owns the VR company that worked on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Published Nov 25th, 2015 8:20AM EST
Apple Virtual Reality Star Wars
Image: Screenshot

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What do Apple and Star Wars have in common? A company called Faceshift. Apple has now confirmed that it acquired a company that worked on the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

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Apple bought the Swiss real-time motion capture startup for an undisclosed amount of money, according to TechCrunch.

Unconfirmed reports earlier this year said that Apple planned to buy Faceshift, but Apple did not confirm the purchase and there was no evidence that money changed hands. But the tech site says it was able to confirm the deal from further sources, discovering “conclusive links between the companies.”

When asked to comment on the matter, Apple confirmed it did purchase the startup, which developed technology to create animated avatars and other figures that capture a person’s facial expressions in real time. But Apple did not explain why it did so. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple said, offering the same generic response it usually hands out for similar acquisitions.

Faceshift will be working for Apple out of Europe, TechCrunch said, though it’s not clear what Apple wants to do with the firm’s technology.

The Swiss company’s facial motion capture technology was used to animate non-human characters in Star Wars Episode VII, which is set to premiere on December 18th. In other words, big names in entertainment have already found ways to put this particular tech to good use, and Apple might also use it for movies and gaming products.

Apple has patents and assets that cover motion capture, facial recognition and augmented reality, TechCrunch adds, partly obtained via similar purchases – Apple acquired three similar European companies in the past, including PrimeSense, Polar Rose and Metaio.

A video showing how this technology works follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.