updated 10:50 am EDT, Mon September 20, 2010
Tech could add face recognition to iOS, MobileMe
Apple has reportedly agreed to buy up all shares of Polar Rose, a company based in Malmö, Sweden. The small firm specializes in face recognition technology, said to similar to that used in iPhoto. It offers three different products, at least two of which may explain Apple's interest.
The first of these is FaceCloud, a scalable server-side platform which introduces face recognition to web services. In early September the company halted a free service which let people tag Facebook friends in Flickr images. A blog entry notes that popularity "led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology," forcing Polar Rose to direct more and more attention away from the free offering. Apple could conceivably bring the FaceCloud concept over to MobileMe, making it possible to use Faces without owning iPhoto or Aperture.
FaceLib operates on portable devices with or without the help of FaceCloud. In part because FaceLib is already supported on the iPhone (as well as Android), Apple may be in a position to integrate face recognition into future versions of iOS, whether as a feature or a security precaution. The Camera app might be able to automatically detect faces, for example, or the OS as a whole could use faces for profiles or biometric security.
A demonstration of Polar Rose's Recognizr for Android, seen below, shows contact info and social networking sites such as Twitter and YouTube being associated with a person's image. If converted to iOS, the tech could carry over into the Camera and/or Photos apps.