Even for uber-secretive Apple, the acquisition of Danish visual effects startup Spektral was especially hush-hush. The tech giant bought the Copenhagen-based firm in December of previous year for more than $30 million but didn't disclose the purchase at the time, according to a Wednesday report by Danish newspaper Børsen. When Apple purchased AuthenTec in 2012, for example, the company's fingerprint authentication technology was built into the Touch ID feature that shipped on the 2013 iPhone 5s. The purchase price is believed to be in excess of $30 million. One of the company's core technologies relates to real-time green screen processing that's capable of separating people and objects from a background and dropping them into a scene with an alternate backdrop. One of the founders of the company (which originally was called CloudCutout), Toke Jansen, notes on his LinkedIn profile that he is now a manager of computational imaging at Apple.
But all those math Ph.D.s at CloudCutout got restless and trained their machine-learning software to cut out a person from moving pictures without the need for an actual Hollywood-style green screen.
Spektral's website goes up to the beginning of 2017, and notes that the company was working "on getting this cool technology available on a smartphone and thereby enabling anyone and anywhere to create mixed reality content".
So how does this all factor into Apple's plans?
"Our pioneering and unique technology is based on state-of-the-art machine learning and computer vision techniques".