Facebook today acquired face recognition technology provider FacioMetrics to beef up the social network giant’s photo and video capabilities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
FacioMetrics spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 as a response to market demand surrounding use of facial image analysis. The company produced facial behavior and demographic tools for developers, using video. These tools aid facial detection and understanding, and even let you swap faces. In response to the acquisition, it appears that all of the startup’s apps have been removed from both the App Store and the Google Play store.
Users of FacioMetrics’ technology span the academic and tech industry worlds and include Lightricks, Anki, Meograph, University of Kentucky, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a “leading social networking company” — perhaps Facebook?
“How people share and communicate is changing, and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement. “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.”
This isn’t the social networking company’s first foray into the image recognition space.
The purchase of FacioMetrics comes weeks after Facebook demonstrated Prisma-like filters for its live video product. At this year’s WSJD Live conference, chief product officer Chris Cox showcased a new app that would let you transfer the style of an artist, such as Rembrandt, onto your image using convolutional neural network and computer vision.
Cox explained that real-time implementation was the hardest challenge the company faced, as the program functions at 24 frames per second. “It’s taking something that’s a known technology, but it was getting it to be fast on a phone and to be able to be done at a low enough latency, without dropping frames, stuttering, or…blurring.” The app is still in its prototyping phase, but there’s certainly an advantage to getting these augmented reality filters up and running sooner than later.
The battle for influencers and content creators around live video is heating up. Giving people the ability to livestream is one thing, but empowering them to own the experience is another. And this is where FacioMetrics could play an important role.
Certainly, this acquisition is impactful for Facebook and will pair well with technology gleaned through its Face.com purchase in 2012. Although Facebook is primarily focused on the photos and videos on its social network, there are obvious implications should the company leverage the technology around Oculus. FacioMetrics’ technology could assist developers in creating more realistic virtual experiences, so that avatars appear and respond more like the user.
Here’s the announcement of the acquisition from FacioMetrics chief executive Fernando De La Torre:
We started FacioMetrics to respond to the increasing interest and demand for facial image analysis – with all kinds of applications, including augmented/virtual reality, animation, audience reaction measurement, and others. 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. We’d like to thank Carnegie Mellon University and our clients for their trust and support – we couldn’t have made it this far without them.
We are looking forward to getting started at Facebook!