Is Google on the hunt for more face recognition technology? That may be the case, according to reports that Google has just acquired Ukrainian-based face-recognition company Viewdle. Unnamed sources told Forbes that the deal was sealed for $30 million to $45 million.
A Google spokesperson said that the company does not comment on rumor or speculation. Viewdle also declined to comment.
It wouldn’t be the first time Google’s bought up a face recognition company. Google acquired the Germany-based Neven Vision in 2006 for $45 million, as well as the American PittPatt for $38 million last year. The acquisition will add a few more face-recognition patents to Google’s portfolio to help it combat Apple, which acquired Polar Rose in 2010, and Facebook, which acquired Face.com earlier this summer (and then promptly shut down Face.com’s API).
Viewdle has made a name for itself in the social facial recognition area. In 2008, the company won the Le Web pitch competition and went on to raise $10 million. The company is probably best known for its commercials of 20-something girls walking and laughing while little squares tag their faces to their social profiles. SocialCamera is an app for Android devices that lets you tag people in your photos and upload them to whichever social networks you want. You tag once, and after that, the technology automatically recognizes faces in your photos.
Last year, Viewdle released its massively multiplayer Android game Third Eye, which uses facial analysis to determine which side a user is on, based entirely on facial characteristics.
Sources told Forbes that Viewdle was aiming for $30 million, but received much more—comparable to what Google has paid for other face-recognition technology companies.
Motorola was reportedly also interested in buying up the company, but that deal fell through when Google acquired Motorola in 2011.
In 2008, Google’s then-VP of Search, Marissa Mayer, weighed in on Viewdle for Vator Box and questioned whether the technology could stand up to millions of faces churned out by the Internet every day.
Founded in 2006, Viewdle’s technology has been 10 years in the making, first developed at the Cybernetics Institute in Kiev, Ukraine as an ex-military university laboratory project. The company has offices in Ukraine and Palo Alto, as well as across Europe and South America. Investors include KCP Capital, Anthem Venture Partners, Best Buy Capital, BlackBerry Partners Fund, and Qualcomm.