Report: Apple acquires Israeli facial recognition startup RealFace


Apple Inc. has acquired facial recognition startup RealFace, according to a story Sunday in the Israeli newspaper Calcacist.

The deal was estimated at “several million dollars.” The Tel Aviv-based company had raised $1 million prior to its acquisition.

Founded in 2014, RealFace is said to have developed facial recognition software that offers users a biometric login. The software is aimed at making passwords redundant when accessing mobile devices or personal computers.

RealFace’s website was offline Sunday, with further details only available via its LinkedIn profile, that read in part, “Our technology provides our customers and end-users with the highest level of authentication and security available on all platforms. We have proprietary IP in the field of frictionless face recognition and effective learnings from facial features.”

That same profile notes that the company had developed the Pickeez app, “a fun innovative way to enjoy your photos” that allows users to automatically chose their best photos from every platform. No public record of the Pickeez app can be found except for a 2015 YouTube video demonstrating the product.

The profile of RealFace algorithm developer Gidi Littwin sheds some more light on the technologies being used by the company. He writes that its products “implement machine learning solutions ranging from state of the art deep learning solutions to more traditional techniques” that include the use of a wide variety of machine learning techniques such as convolutional and recurrent neural networks, hidden Markov models, and support vector machines.

Neither Apple nor RealFace has publicly commented on the deal and its executives have not changed their LinkedIn profiles giving no insight as to when the Apple may have made the acquisition. However, the company last advertised for a new position nine months ago and a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine finds that the site was last indexed in October 2016. That suggests the purchase of the company may have taken place in November or December, since it’s unusual for a company acquired by Apple to simply go dark post-acquisition.

Apple has previously acquired facial recognition startups, including Emotient Inc. in January 2016. It’s rumored to be bringing the technology to the iPhone 8 in September.

Image courtesy of RealFace/YouTube