According to a report from Fortune, Apple discreetly acquired Danish visual effects startup Spektral in December 2017. Spektral was once named CloudCutout and focused on a cloud-based solution to masking a subject from the background of an photograph.
Now, Spektral specializes in masking technology that uses machine learning to separate a subject in an image from the background in real-time on mobile devices. "Combining deep neural networks and spectral graph theory with the computing power of modern GPUs, our engine can process images and video from the camera in real-time (60 fps) directly on the device," says Spektral on its website.
Neither Apple nor Spektral have confirmed the acquisition, but Fortune reports the deal was worth "more than $30 million. "
With no comment, we can't say for sure what Apple intends to do with Spektral's intellectual property and personnel, but Spektral Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer Toke Jansen now lists "Manager, Computational Imaging" as his title at Apple on his LinkedIn profile. Combined with Apple's ongoing efforts to beef up its augmented reality efforts in its apps — both its own and third-party — it's safe to assume we'll see the fruits of the acquisition in the near future, if we haven't already seen parts of it.. dpreview.com