Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Face Recognition App in Development [UPDATE]

UPDATE: WebProNews has spoken to a Google spokesperson about any upcoming plans for the use of facial recognition technology.  Here is their official statement:

“As we’ve said for more than a year, we will not add facial recognition to Goggles unless we have strong privacy protections in place. We’re still working on them. We have nothing to announce at this time.”


Ever get yourself involved in a conversation with an old acquaintance and suddenly realize you don’t remember their name? Awkward. Well, there might be an app for that, depending on how sly you are with snapping photos.

At least that’s a more optimistic use for the new app being developed by Google. The app would use face recognition technology to search for matches through the Google profile database, and would then be able to display a person’s name, contact information and whatever else was included in their profile. Let’s ask the more sinister question now.

Have you ever been ignored by the hottest girl at the bar and really wanted to find out where she lived so you can make a proper impression? There might be an app for that. But not yet, a Google engineering director told CNN. The most obvious problem surrounding the app is its privacy implications.

“We recognize that Google has to be extra careful when it comes to these [privacy] issues. Before the app launches, Google plans to have acceptable privacy models in place,” said Hartmut Neven to CNN.

Google and privacy concerns are words that seem to be linked together quite often as of late. Yesterday, Google announced that it had settled with the FTC over publicly released email contacts associated with the launch of Google Buzz. There has also been plenty of privacy concerns involving street-view, both here and across the pond.

Obviously, if people have to opt-in to letting their information be shared via this app, the database for photos able to be recognized will be relatively small. What if the app could comb through billions more photos online for a match? An app like this could expand far beyond Google profiles to involve Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Could this in-development app handle that kind of task? “That, we could do today,” says Neven.


But obviously, that won’t be happening any time soon. There are way too many privacy concerns.

“I think we are taking a sort of cautious route with this. It’s a sensitive area, and it’s kind of a subjective call on how you would do it.”

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