Apple has acquired an artificial intelligence company that uses facial recognition to read a person’s emotions.
Emotient’s technology examines a user’s facial expressions and measures them against a database that can determine joy, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, and contempt.
In an emailed statement Apple stopped short of confirming the acquisition but said, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
The purchase was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Apple has not released an acquisition price for the AI company.
Apple could use the facial recognition software in devices such as Car Play for more hands-free driver assistance, or in its own marketing efforts.
Apple has been highly focused on AI acquisitions. The company recently purchased UK-based VocalIQ, a company that produces speed-recognition software that can help Siri speak and listen more like a human.
Emotient currently sells its software to marketers, advertisers, and companies that want to know more about their customers.
The software currently scans a person’s face as they watch ads to determine if they are paying attention and engaged with the ad.
Emotient was founded in 2012 by researchers from the University of California, San Diego.