Apple just made an unexpected purchase: The tech giant has acquired Faceshift, the startup responsible for the motion capture technology used to make characters in the new Star Wars movie look more realistic, TechCrunch reports. Apple has not disclosed how much it spent on the Zurich-based company, but TechCrunch reports that “several Faceshift employees are now working for Apple now out of Europe.”
It isn’t immediately obvious how Apple might use Faceshift’s software, which can transpose a person’s facial movements and expressions onto an animated avatar or character in real time. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Faceshift’s product has thus far been geared toward gaming and filmmaking; the company claimed it could cut back on the time and money spent on animation. But one way Apple might use its newly acquired technology is to elevate its facial recognition and augmented reality capabilities. Apple has already picked up a number of patents in those areas, and acquired companies like 3-D sensor firm PrimeSense and augmented reality software developer Metaio.