IT LOOKS LIKE Apple has been shopping again. What do you buy the company that has everything? A computer vision startup, apparently.
Spektral - née CloudCutout - produces software that specialises in cutting out figures from backgrounds in photos and video. As a fresh young startup in 2015, this technology was originally used for school photos, but has more recently changed focus to video. You can get an idea of the kind of thing we mean from the promotional film below.
As is often the case with these acquisitions, it looks like Apple actually bought the company some time ago, and reports are only just coming to light. Company co-founder Toke Jansen has been listed as ‘manager of computational imaging at Apple' on his LinkedIn profile since December 2017, but the news has only just come to light via Danish financial newspaper Børsen. Proof positive that nobody ever reads your LinkedIn profile recreationally.
So why has Apple bought a company specialising in cutouts? There are a number of possibilities ranging from PhotoBooth on Mac to ARKit on iPhone, but there are also the persistent rumours that Apple plans to launch its own AR glasses in the next few years. Being able to quickly ‘greenscreen' figures onto the world around you would certainly be an impressive feature. Not as impressive as making a pair of smart glasses that actual humans would consider wearing out, but impressive all the same.
Of course, when asked directly of its plans for Spektral, Apple described the purchase in the same terms that we might pitch buying a chocolate bar on a whim. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time," the company mused in a boilerplate response, "and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Still, if you spot ARKit getting some exciting new features over the next few months, you'll have a good idea of who to thank. µ
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