Norwegian Mac site Mac1 reported the acquisition on Monday, according to a translation of the site via Google Translate. Financial details were not disclosed. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Polar Rose has developed technology that uses complex algorithms to identify photos, so they can be linked to other information. The company focuses on facial recognition, making the technology particularly useful in social networks. For example, the technology could be used to identify and tag people in a group photo.
What Apple has planned for the Polar Rose technology is not known. The company does not comment on future product plans. However, Apple uses facial recognition technology in iPhoto to help users organize their photos based on particular people.
Apple could expand Polar Rose's technology on the iPhone in competing against Google which has developed image recognition software called Goggles for smartphones running the search engine's Android operating systems.
Goggles makes it possible for people to take pictures of landmarks, artwork, text and other objects in order to launch a search for more information. Because of privacy concerns, Google has not expanded the capabilities to include facial recognition.
Polar Rose has three products: FaceCloud, FaceLib and FaceCore.
FaceCloud enables service providers and social networks to use the facial-recognition technology on websites. The company's FaceLib product is for developers building applications for iPhones and Android phones. FaceCore is for applications developed to run on a server or Linux, Mac OS X or Windows desktop or laptop.
Earlier this month, Polar Rose shut down its free face-tagging service that has been offered on its website for several years. The offering had started out with a browser plug in and search engine. In the middle of last year, the company launched tagging of Facebook friends in Flickr photos, which was later expanded to include Facebook photos.