Apple has bought Emotient, a developer of facial expression recognition software, that analyses people’s emotions through their facial expressions.
Apple confirmed the purchase Thursday without giving terms or describing its plans for the San Diego -based company.
Emotient’s AI technology has primarily been used by doctors, advertisers and retailers.
London-based Realeyes and Waltham, Massachusetts-based Affectiva are among the startups with Emotient using artificial intelligence techniques to infer emotions from facial recognition software.
Apple has a running list of acquired artificial intelligence companies and today’s buy adds to it. Apple bought Perceptio last October followed by another purchase of VocalIQ.
Artificial intelligence has become a strategically important area for Apple as it seeks to build smart software tying together its numerous products.
The world’s most valuable company has sought to hire more people to conduct advanced research in the field and acquired two other AI startups – Perceptio and VocalIQ – in recent months.
The ability to read emotions via a computer opens up a whole swathe of product areas, ranging from applications that change according to the perceived mood of the person to tools for studying how media affect a person’s state of mind.
Emotient, founded by six researchers from the University of California at San Diego, had been granted patents covering areas such as the use of AI to read images and decipher whether a person would be attractive to another person.
Another patent includes systems for gauging the tone of a conversation and automatically suggesting what can be said to improve the rapport of it.