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Facebook acquires CMU spinoff company FacioMetrics

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, 6:18 p.m.
A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015.   REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

FacioMetrics, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company, announced Wednesday it is being acquired by Facebook.

The company developed basic algorithms for facial feature tracking and software that could run on most smartphones, according to an archived version of its website and CMU.

"We started FacioMetrics to respond to the increasing interest and demand for facial image analysis — with all kinds of applications including augmented/virtual reality, animation, audience reaction measurement, and others," FacioMetrics Founder and CEO Fernando De la Torre wrote on the company's website. "Now, we're taking a big step forward by joining the team at Facebook, where we'll be able to advance our work at an incredible scale, reaching people from across the globe."

De la Torre, an associate research professor of robotics and head of the Human Sensing Laboratory, founded FacioMetrics in 2015 to further work on the IntraFace software he developed at CMU. He thanked CMU and his clients for their trust and support in the statement on his website but couldn't be reached for more details about the deal.

Facebook did not say how much it paid for FacioMetrics.

"How people share and communicate is changing and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways. We're excited to welcome the FacioMetrics team who will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos and build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook," the company said in a statement to the Tribune-Review.

Automated facial analysis available through IntraFace could help monitor the emotional states of patients or detect whether a public speaker was losing the audience's attention, De la Torre said in a statement from CMU in December upon the release of the software. Researchers at Duke University had used IntraFace in a research tool to test the reliability of facial expression analysis to screen for autism. The technology could also detect drowsy drivers, perform automated analysis of marketing focus groups, improve the animation of avatars in video games or human-robot interaction or monitor and detect depression, anxiety and other disorders, according to CMU.

IntraFace had been available in Apple's App Store and from Google Play but has since been removed.

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