Facebook continues to further bolster to its arsenal of photo and video capabilities. The social media behemoth has today announced that it has acquired a facial recognition startup called FacioMetrics. The financial details of the transaction haven’t been disclosed.
This Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company was created in 2015 with the primary aim of building vision-based customer solutions for applications ranging from surveillance, AR/VR to animation or health care. FacioMetrics has embedded machine learning algorithms into mobile devices to introduce facial feature tracking via its IntraFace app. The company developed other apps such as Faciolytics analysis, Facio2D, and Facio3D.
The IntraFace application, now removed from the App Store, brings the ability to recognize seven different emotions by mapping the user’s face in real-time. FacioMetrics describes it as a research tool to test the reliability of facial expression analysis to screen for autism. It can also be used to detect drowsy drivers, perform automated analysis of marketing focus groups, detect depression, anxiety & other disorders.
I got my hands on the apk package of the app from the interwebs and in the ten minutes I got to play with the app, the experience has been extremely positive. The app recognizes and places tracking points on your face and then tries to contemplate the gesture or emotion on your face. It not only detects if you’re happy/sad/surprised or disgusted but also if you’re wearing glasses or have any facial hair or not. It even outputs the said sex of the user in front of the camera.
Commenting on the acquisition, Fernando De la Torre, founder and CEO at FacioMetrics says,
We began our research at Carnegie Mellon University developing state-of-the-art computer vision and machine learning algorithms for facial image analysis. Over time, we have successfully developed and integrated this cutting-edge technology into battery-friendly and efficient mobile applications, and also created new applications of this technology.
Now, we’re taking a big step forward by joining the team at Facebook, where we’ll be able to advance our work at an incredible scale, reaching people from across the globe. We are thrilled for our next big step forward by joining Facebook.
In a statement sent to Business Insider, a Facebook spokesperson comments on the acquisition saying:
How people share and communicate is changing and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways. We’re excited to welcome the FacioMetrics team who will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos and build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook.
The aforementioned statement shows that Facebook is looking to employ the patented facial recognition and tracking technology to further beef up its Snapchat-like augmented reality face masks. These masks which overlay the user’s face have already started rolling out to videos and Live broadcasts, for some. The company has recently also released a Snapchat clone called ‘Flash’ in developing markets. This app also packs in a handful of live face masks but they aren’t as good as the ones on Snapchat.
With FacioMetrics’ technology in tow, Facebook has definitely upped the ante and is now looking to catch up with other applications on the AR front. The company could amalgamate the former’s tech with its previous acquisition of face mask company MSQRD to produce classy new masks for its video-first strategy. This could also give the company a chance to other avenues, including integrating functions based on certain gestures into their tech, especially Oculus. Much like, taking a selfie with a smile, or start recording a video by just winking.