Traditionally, Apple purchases small companies under the radar and within a year the acquisition pays off with a new feature for the iPhone. A good example of this took place in 2012 when Apple acquired biometrics company AuthenTec for $356 million
. The next year, Touch ID debuted on the iPhone 5s
. Even before then, back in April 2010 Apple purchased SIRI for an undisclosed amount. The company had just listed a mobile concierge app in the App Store also called SIRI that the developers were planning to offer to Android and BlackBerry phones. Apple purchased Siri and a year later the virtual assistant launched on the iPhone 4s
If past is prologue, expect to see some of IKinema's technology used next year's iPhones
If history repeats itself, we could see some new Animoji and Memoji features for iOS 14 and next year's iPhone models. That's because Apple has confirmed to CNBC
that it has purchased IKinema for an undisclosed amount. Among the technology created by the company is a system that turns people captured on video into animated characters. Based in the U.K., Ikinema promotes itself as a company that "helps creators of next-gen games and VR experiences power up to deliver incredible immersion and freedom." This isn't the first 3D animated graphics company that Apple has purchased. In 2015, the tech titan bought FaceShift and the latter's technology that captures a person's facial expressions in real-time. As you can probably guess, this technology was employed by Apple for Animoji and Memoji.
"IKINEMA's technology is embraced by development teams the world over to bring their games to life through delivery of high fidelity results in natural character locomotion and greater player immersion within dynamic game worlds, including substantial cost reduction and accelerated production levels by a factor of five times or more to expedite the release of games to market."-IKinema
A quick visit to the IKinema website reveals that it has been basically taken down although the company does have some videos posted on YouTube. One shows how the real-life movements of a person can be duplicated to move an animated character or even an animated tree. Running through some of the videos, it is obvious that Apple will be able to use IKinema's technology to improve Animoji and Memoji. The former are animated animal emoji that track the user's facial movements. Memoji are also animated emoji that track the user's facial movements, but these actually are created in the image of the user. The videos also show some green screen tricks that Apple could employ when producing content for its Apple TV+ streaming video service and to create games for Apple Arcade. Apple hasn't developed any of the games for Arcade, and as far as we know there aren't any plans to do so. But if it does, IKinema's technology would sure go a long way toward creating some top tier effects.
The Memoji feature could get a boost from the technology that Apple has purchased
In case you were wondering, or if you ever appear on a game show, the largest acquisition ever made by Apple was the $3 billion purchase of Beats Audio announced in May of 2014
. Apple made the purchase to acquire Beats Music, although it had only 111,000 subscribers around the time that the deal was announced. In true Apple fashion, slightly over a year later, Apple Music was launched.