Apple Buys AI Facial Recognition Startup

Last September, reports surfaced that Apple was making a push to make its smart devices smarter and to do so was planning on going on a hiring spree in hopes to stay competitive with Google.

Now, Apple is putting even more of an investment into the artificial intelligence market. News broke yesterday (Jan. 7) that Apple had bought Emotient Inc., an AI tech startup with the expertise to analyze facial expressions to read people’s emotions.

While there wasn’t much official news of what Apple would actually do with the company, it’s no surprise that the Silicon Valley tech giant is attempting to keep up with the hot trend in the region, which has also gotten attention recently from Facebook and Google. Facial recognition has also gotten popular in the payments space, with companies like MasterCard and Alibaba looking to develop ways to pay using that very technology.

Apple’s only comment on the matter came from an Apple spokeswoman who The Wall Street Journal that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Emotient is a San Diego-based company that was reportedly looking for investors for a new financing round but was unable to do so. WSJ noted that Apple had shared interest in the AI field through past patents. This reported deal follows its acquisition in Oct. 2015 of AI startup VocalIQ Ltd., which was focused on computers and voice recognition.


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