Apple has Bought the Motion Capture Technology Behind Star Wars



Apple is the new owner of Faceshift, the motion capture technology that Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm used to help bring alien characters to life in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Although the acquisition went through in August this year and was rumoured at the time, Apple has only now confirmed the news. In a statement to TechCrunch,, the company said that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans”.

Faceshift, based on technologies originally developed at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, works by analysing data captured by a depth camera similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. The system uses an infrared dot grid to detect objects and motion in three dimensions, and movement data from the camera, including head position, gaze direction and the location of arbitrary marker points on the face, is then applied to a 3D model either in real time or, for greater accuracy, in post-processing.

Despite Faceshift Studio’s recent high-profile use in the world of film, it was originally developed for use in 3D games, allowing pre-generated NPCs and even players’ own avatars to have accurate facial expressions.