American multinational technology company, Apple Inc has acquired an artificial intelligence start-up that reads emotions on faces.
The American start-up, known as ‘Emotient’ can detect the slightest changes in expressions to determine whether people are angry, surprised or disgusted.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed the purchase of the company to The Wall Street Journal and said in a statement that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Although Apple did not disclose any plans or financial details regarding it’s new acquisition, Emotient’s technology was brought by advertisers to help them assess viewer reactions to their advertisements.
Emotient said that its technology was used by doctors to track signs of pain in patients unable to explain themselves and by a retailer to monitor shoppers’ reactions.
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 – a British company focused on voice recognition and natural language processing.
The San Diego, California-based company, Emotient was founded in 2012 and has already been awarded patents covering how it uses crowdsourcing to “train” its machine-learning technology for sentiment analysis and crucially for the privacy-conscious Apple — a way to understand facial expressions without storing recognisable images of individuals’ faces.