Apple is rumored to have snapped up Israel-based startup, RealFace, for $2 million

Apple appears to have officially joined the race for the integration of the latest Artificial Intelligence tools within consumer products.

The company reportedly just bought an Israel-based start up called RealFace, which specializes in AI facial recognition applications, according to the Times of Israel.

The deal, worth $2 million, could mean that future Apple products will display advances in facial recognition and biometric identification. $2 million is, in the grand scheme of things, just loose change. What is significant though, is the signal it sends out.

This would not come as a surprise, as some of the rumors about the new iPhone 8 say it might come equipped with face scanning technology and new biometric means of identification that could substitute traditional passwords.

Apple was the first to introduce fingerprint scanners as a means of user identification on smartphones, and fingerprint IDs can now also be used to buy products in the App Store from an iPhone.

As hackers and cyber threats evolved over the years, passwords have become unreliable tools to safeguard users' privacy and security. Biometric identification technology is, therefore, likely to become increasingly important in future, particularly as Artificial Intelligence tools are perfected and are applied to biometric tools such as face, iris, and voice recognition.

Apple is probably seizing upon this, and the acquisition of RealFace could be a further confirmation of the company's efforts to develop more sophisticated biometric tools.

Adi Eckhouse Barzilai and Aviv Mader established RealFace in 2014. The startup developed facial recognition software that could replace passwords with smart biometric logins for devices and PCs.

The Times of Israel also reports that the company secured $1 million in start-up funding and currently employs around 10 people. So far, the company has been generating revenues in China, Israel, Europe and the US.

The first product by RealFace was an app called Pickeez that helps users enjoy photos through recognition software that picks their best pictures from different online platforms.

The acquisition of RealFace is a confirmation that Apple joined other tech giants in the development and application of Artificial Intelligence tools, which are thought of as one of the most dynamic frontiers of modern technology.

In December last year, the company published its first AI paper about an algorithm that learns how to recognize images generated by a computer.

This is just one more acquisition in what appears to be a confirmed strategy; a year ago, Apple also acquired another AI-based startup, Emotient, with the prize being that their applications can read expressions of individuals and crowds.

The days of Apple ruling the roost are long since gone. Observers will be keen to see how Apple's AI investments and acquisitions translate in to clear, blue water between its products and those of its competitors.