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Apple Acquires Israeli Firm RealFace Specializing in Facial Recognition

Apple has bought Israeli startup RealFace, a cybersecurity and machine learning firm specializing in facial recognition technology.

The Times of Israel reported on Sunday that the Tel Aviv-based company, founded in 2014, was snapped up by Apple for an estimated $2 million, while Hebrew-language Calcalist said the deal was worth "several million dollars".

RealFace's website is currently offline, but according to promotional material, the startup had developed a unique facial recognition technology that integrates artificial intelligence and "brings back human perception to digital processes". RealFace's software is said to use proprietary IP in the field of "frictionless face recognition" that allows for rapid learning from facial features.

The Israeli startup also developed a now-defunct app called Pickeez, which selected and collated a user's best photos across various platforms using the RealFace recognition software.

Demo of RealFace's face recognition software

According to iPhone 8 rumors, Apple may ditch Touch ID along with the physical home button, in favor of a facial recognition-capable front-facing 3D laser scanner, although with the RealFace acquisition coming at such a late time, it's unlikely that the any of the startup's technology will feature.

RealFace is the fourth Israel-based firm Apple is known to have acquired. In 2011 it bought flash memory maker Anobit for a reported $400 million, then in November 2013 it acquired 3D sensor company PrimeSense for an estimated $345 million. Most recently in 2015, Apple bought LinX for around $20 million.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago
Dear MR,
While I enjoy these articles.... PLEASE stop mentioning the incredibly unlikely scenario of loss of TouchID.

When TouchID came out; nobody was saying: "and Apple is removing the ability to use a passcode; you'll be forced to use this feature, whether it's buggy or not"- so I'm unsure why this time around everyone has glommed into this RIDICULOUS rumor, so far only postulated by a single "analyst", based here in America, that has no insider info, or ties w/ the production factories. It really reads like his personal opinion based on nothing other than that.... it's his opinion.
Rating: 29 Votes
35 months ago
No touch id no buy.
Rating: 27 Votes
35 months ago

No touch id no buy.

It will definitely have Touch ID in some form. Nobody is going to be using facial recognition to authenticate in store Apple Pay purchases.
Rating: 16 Votes
35 months ago

No touch id no buy.

No way they ditch touch ID. If facial recognition is involved in the next phone it will be as an added feature, not a replacement.
Rating: 14 Votes
35 months ago
Touch ID is so convenient. It has made iPhones infinitely more productive vs passcodes. Also, how well does this work under differing conditions? Low light? What if I have a beard and then I shave my face or vice versa? How fast would it work as Touch ID is lightning quick. I also prefer a physical button or at least the imprint for one (which unfortunately looks like it is going away). It's going to take some real convincing for me to say Touch ID is ready for pasture. Hopefully this is in addition to Touch ID and not in place of Touch ID. I guess time will tell.
Rating: 7 Votes
35 months ago
I'm not sure how Apple could ditch Touch ID, given Apple Pay's reliance on it. I would think it could be very problematic to not only hold your iPhone next a store's payment terminal, but then make sure it's held at an angle that allows the camera to scan your face, if that is how they would make Touch ID work.
Rating: 5 Votes
35 months ago

Touch ID is so convenient. It has made iPhones infinitely more productive vs passcodes. Also, how well does this work under differing conditions?

How well does TouchID work under differing conditions? Rain? No. Sweating? No. Doing the dishes? No. Wearing gloves? No. After swimming with your skin somewhat soaked? No. After doing rock climbing? No.
Rating: 4 Votes
35 months ago
I still think there will be a fingerprint reader , but it will be on the back of the new iphone.
There are more and more clues that apple won' t be able to implement an inscreen touchid button , yet, with the release of an iphone x. Maybe later. The s8 that has yet to be released by samsung also doesn' t have it in-screen, but on the back.
I think(and i know it is a stretch) , apple will put it on the back, behind the apple logo, and will release new cases with a precise apple logo cutout( they are the only one that can do that because of copyright.) Since apple is making more and more money from accesories the last few years, this will fit in their business strategy.

It will be used like this:

-apple pay, touchid on the back can be used, you can feel the apple logo , put your finger on the logo and pay with the phone without looking at the phone.

-unlocking the phone: when picking up your iphone/raise the iphone, the locking screen will apear.( just like it does now) and the virtual homebutton will apear. When you press the virtual homebutton the facial recog tech will kick in and unlock your iphone instantly.

-when you make an online purchase, you can pay by touchid on the back, or with facial recognition. Or both (Determined by your settings/preferences).

I hope this won' t happen, but you never know at apple.
Rating: 4 Votes
35 months ago

I'm not sure how it will overcome the identical twin problem. My twin girls definitely wouldn't appreciate the other playing about on their iPad.
Photos app has never been able to tell them apart - I imagine this will be much more sophisticated, but faces are less unique than fingerprints - in our family at least!

Rating: 4 Votes
35 months ago
Kind of don't want to have to see my ugly face looking back at me every time I want to log in.
Rating: 4 Votes

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