Apple buys Israeli start-up RealFace to let users sign in with their face

20 Feb 2017

Image: Anton Watman/Shutterstock

Apple has made its latest start-up acquisition to boost its security features, with the purchase of Israeli facial recognition start-up RealFace for around $2m.

With competition in the consumer tech market as fierce as ever, companies such as Apple are always on the lookout for innovative start-ups to snap up, in the hope that new technology will give them an edge on the market.

That latest company hails from Israel in the form of the facial recognition software firm RealFace.

According to The Times of Israel, Apple has acquired its fourth company in the country to bolster its biometric security technology.

Founded in 2014 by Adi Eckhouse Barzilai and Aviv Mader, the company began by offering an app called Pickeez, which allowed a user to collate what it thought were their best photos from a multiple number of online platforms.

Employing 10 people, RealFace has so far raised around $1m, but this Apple acquisition is believed to be in the region of $2m.

RealFace’s website has now been removed, appearing to confirm the reported acquisition.

The facial recognition technology will be used to help Apple develop its own biometric software, allowing users to not only sign in with their PIN or fingerprint scan, but also by looking directly into the phone’s front-facing camera.

Major moves into AR tech

Aside from letting users log in with their face, RealFace’s technology also hints at Apple’s eventual move into the world of augmented reality (AR).

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently spoke about his interest in AR technology and where it was going, saying it could be as successful as the iPhone itself.

RealFace could help Apple expand into object recognition, which would give it a boost within the field of AR, both in terms of personal use and e-commerce.

This isn’t the first AR-related acquisition that Apple has made in Israel, however. Back in 2013, it acquired the motion recognition firm PrimeSense for $360m.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic