According to a rumor out of the Norwegian Mac1 blog, Apple is reportedly in the process of acquiring a Swedish company that specializes in mobile and web-based facial recognition. The company, Polar Rose, offers two facial recognition products called FaceCloud and FaceLib. FaceCloud is a server-based API technology that provides self-hosted or managed solutions for online facial recognition. It offers social network integration and is used to automatically find and tag people in online photo albums.
FaceLib is the mobile counterpart and offers both on-device and FaceCloud-based processing options for facial recognition. The shared mobile library is available for the iPhone and Android and allows for mobile face detection, tracking of faces in video, and on-device user recognition. A concept video put together by Polar Rose and TAT demonstrates a usage scenario where mobile facial recognition is used to manage and retrieve profile information from social networks:
Recently, Polar Rose has shut down its free face tagging service and both its Flickr and Facebook service. The Swedish company cited an overwhelming number of customer service requests as the reason for shuttering these services. It is possible that this explanation is a cover-up and the decision was prompted by Apple’s pending acquisition. In the hands of Apple, Polar Rose’s technology could be used for a myriad of applications both on its iOS devices and its MobileMe cloud service. Neither Apple nor Polar Rose has commented on this rumor.
UPDATED: Tech Crunch Europe is reporting that its rock-solid sources confirm that Polar Rose was purchased by Apple for a cool $22 million.