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Apple Reportedly Purchases Face Recognition Company Polar Rose [Updated]

According to a report [Google translation] from Mac1, Apple has acquired Swedish face recognition firm Polar Rose. The information appears to have been confirmed by Swedish news service Rapidus and sources for IDG News Service.

Company CEO Carl Silbersky would today not comment on the affair.

"I do not know what this is about," he says, and would otherwise not give any comments.

The same information comes from the company's Chief Technology Officer Jan Erik Solem. Other sources close to the Polar Rose, however, confirms that the deal is, if not completely, at least in the final stage. News Service Rapidus claims to have gotten over the board meeting from the beginning of the month in which it appears that Apple is now the sole owner of the company.

Polar Rose has developed several tools related to face recognition, including for server-side and mobile applications. The company currently advertises as its primary product its FaceCloud implementation for social networks and photo hosting sites to allow for streamlined tagging and face recognition. Polar Rose's mobile product, FaceLib, is a shared library for the iPhone and Android platforms that allows for face detection, tracking within video, and on-device recognition.

One example of Polar Rose's FaceLib technology is the Recognizr concept for "augumented ID" of which the company has been a co-developer. A video demonstrating the concept is available on YouTube.


Late last month, Polar Rose announced that it was shutting down its consumer-focused Flickr and Facebook tagging product, and followed that up by announcing just a week later that it would be shutting down its entire free face-tagging service. At the time, the company claimed that it was unable to keep up with customer service requests and needed to focus its efforts on its face recognition technology. It now appears that that decision was likely motivated by Apple's pending acquisition of the company.

Apple has utilized face recognition technology for several years in its iPhoto application, but its apparent acquisition of Polar Rose signals an expanded interest in using it for mobile and/or video applications.

Just last week, we discovered that Apple had acquired UK-based IM-Sense Ltd for its "eye-fidelity" technology related to color correction in images, particular for HDR photos such as those employed in Apple's new iOS 4.1.

Update: Citing "rock-solid sources", TechCrunch claims that Apple paid $29 million for Polar Rose.