Tech News

Apple Buys AI Technology That Can Read Your Expression

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Apple are known for giving new technologies the once over, and there are countless tech companies they’ve trialled. However, one of the most recent purchases by the mobile giant is something that could change the way our phones, laptops and tablets work in a very unique way…

Emotient

This small, lesser heard of tech brand says it is the leader in detecting emotion using facial recognition software. CEO of the company, Ken Denman, explained that the rise in techniques to analyse data means that it is become easier than ever to read micro expressions on people’s faces. This, in turn, can then give away what people are really thinking. Ultimately, this can then be used to gauge how a person is reacting to pretty much anything – from adverts through to phone calls. How companies then use this technology is completely down to them, and it seems like Apple may have some big plans.

Acquired by Apple

When questioned about their recent purchase of the AI technology, a spokesperson for Apple didn’t really have a lot to say. In fact, interviewers were told, “We generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” So it looks like whatever their big plans are, they’re going to be kept under wraps. A spokesperson did also tell some tech bloggers that it’s commonplace for the company to invest in smaller businesses from time to time. Along the same lines, they have also recently purchased a facial analysis software called FaceShift, and a similar startup called Perceptio. Whether this means they’re thinking about using facial recognition technology in their devices is something we probably won’t find out for a very long time.

Privacy Problems

While we’re still unsure exactly what this technology would be used for (if anything) by Apple, there are some concerns about people’s privacy. Facebook Moments has already seen some pretty nasty backlash thanks to privacy regulations in the EU. Along the same lines, the automatic tagging feature on Google Play is only available in America. There are seriously strict guidelines surrounding privacy in the EU, and facial recognition is something that is going to be spoken about a lot over the years. Whether rules will get tighter or looser over the next few years will all depend on how well the tech companies can protect user’s privacy. Emotient have already tried to address some concerns by explaining how exactly people’s data will stay safe. According to the CEO pixels will be exploded so that nobody would be able to make out someone’s face. It would be impossible for anyone to put them back together and get hold of any personal information. This type of security in place could see the EU relaxing their stance on facial recognition technology; if only slightly.

It will be interesting to see what companies like Apple plan to do with some of these emerging and innovative technologies. As long as they’re not planning on some kind of George Orwell surveillance then it’s unlikely people are going to be too worried about it. However, there is always that worry that we’re giving away too much information and this could be another privacy nightmare that is ready to implode.

About the author

Rebecca Walton

Rebecca has always been fascinated with the business and tech world, having grown up with parents in the industry. She has a real passion for science - particularly space and the unknown realms that surround the planet! Rebecca has been writing for different publications for nearly 6 years and is now an editor at Pangaea Express.