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Apple bought a graphics company that morphs video footage into animated characters

Key Points
  • Apple has bought IKinema, a UK-based 3D animation company, the company confirmed to CNBC. 
  • IKinema developed motion capture technology that could morph video footage of people into animated characters.
  • Apple did not disclose the purchase price or why it bought the company, but IKinema technology could be used to improve Apple's Animoji feature that enables users to transform their face into characters including an alien, robot, or even a pile of poo. 
This animoji is me as a sad fox :(
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple has bought IKinema, a UK-based 3D animation company, the company confirmed to CNBC. 

IKinema developed motion capture technology that could morph video footage of people into animated characters.

Apple did not disclose the purchase price or why it bought the company, but Apple has purchased several small companies with a similar 3D graphics focus in the past, including FaceShift, which was eventually integrated into Apple's Animoji feature that enables users to transform their face into characters including an alien, robot, or even a pile of poo. 

"IKinema helps creators of next-gen games and VR experiences power up to deliver incredible immersion and freedom," according to the company's marketing copy. 

Apple has bought several companies with technologies needed for augmented reality, a technology that integrates computer graphics and software into the real world, such as Metaio, Flyby Media, and Emotient. Apple has multiple teams working on augmented reality, including some that work on public iPhone software called ARKit, and another team that has prototyped specialized hardware including headsets.  

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called augmented reality "profound."

Much of the IKinema website has been taken down, but it previously listed a wide range of notable partners including Microsoft, Tencent, and Disney, according to the Financial Times. The purchase was first reported by MacRumors

Apple lawyer Peter Denwood was added as a director to the company's UK filings on Sept. 12. Those filings say that IKinema had 13 employees during 2018. 

"Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don't discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple representative told CNBC. 

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