Apple secretly acquired Danish visual effects startup Spektral last year

“Even for uber-secretive Apple, the acquisition of Danish visual effects startup Spektral was especially hush-hush,” Lucas Laursen reports for Fortune. “The tech giant bought the Copenhagen-based firm in December of last year for more than $30 million but didn’t disclose the purchase at the time, according to a Wednesday report by Danish newspaper Børsen.”

“Spektral got its start by developing software that enabled photographers to digitally pluck a person — down to the pesky stray hairs on their head — from one green screen-like background and plunk them down in front of another,” Laursen reports. “That technique is called ‘cutouts’ and the company went by the name CloudCutout at the time. It offered a way to do in the digital cloud something photographers once did by hand with film and later did by mouse in photo editing software.”

“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,” Laursen reports. “Now the company advertises that it can do that in real time, creating a ‘mixed reality.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, Apple’s interest in augmented reality remains high. We’d guess that the tech would be/already is useful in the Camera app’s Portrait Mode, iMovie, Clips, etc.


  1. It is striking how much time can be saved now, compared to the “old days” for design work in all fields.

    Software today leaves us free to do more advanced work based on ideas in our head that we otherwise would not attempt in “the old days.”

  2. Distinguishing individual hairs from background vegetation is a matter of degree; Achieving it to an optimal degree is the Holy Grail. It looks like this company can do it better than others.

  3. Might Apple have acquired this company for purposes related to their increasing entertainment production, rather than something they intend to incorporate into their software/hardware products?

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