If you’re looking forward to the newest Star Wars movie as much as the rest of the intelligent life forms of the world, there’s a feature in this one that you especially want to watch for. No, it’s not the new villains or the old favorites (lookin’ at you, Leia and Han) that will make Episode VII: The Force Awakens so cool, it’s the ahead of its time special effects that the original films were known for oh so long ago.
One of the effects in particular may not seem on par with lightsabers or x-wing fighter battle scenes, but it’s what makes some of the characters come to life by giving them facial movements and expressions. Swiss startup Faceshift was the source of the software that mimics the human actors’ features and movements to avoid that eye-movement-only experience we’ve seen from 3D animation in the past.
Again, we agree…not exactly the whomping drone of a light saber slicing through the air. But it was high-tech enough to attract the attention of Apple, who just bought the company for an undisclosed amount.
Now the real fun begins: the speculation on why the Cupertino tech giant would want the rights to a piece of software that creates more life-like facial movements from animated characters.
Some industry watchers say the smart money is one Apple’s ventures into virtual reality, and they backup this claim by citing other high-dollar corporate purchases like an engineering team that had developed several VR patents and the group who developed the motion sensors for the XBox Kinect; those two purchases alone represented a nearly $400 million investment.
While other experts have stated this has less to do with virtual reality and more to do with Apple’s AI and machine learning focus, the company itself had a typical non-response: Apple buys up little guys all the time.