Google making an app that could match faces to names, phone numbers, and email addresses
Google plans to introduce a mobile application that would allow users to snap pictures of people's faces in order to access their personal information, a director for the project said this week. In order to be identified by the software, people would have to check a box agreeing to give Google permission to access their pictures and profile information, said Hartmut Neven, the Google engineering director for image-recognition development.
Profiles might include a name, phone number and e-mail address.
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Google acknowledges the nefarious ways someone could leverage facial-recognition technology.
Many people "are rightfully scared of it," Neven said. "In particular, women say, 'Oh my God. Imagine this guy takes a picture of me in a bar, and then he knows my address just because somewhere on the Web there is an association of my address with my photo.' That's a scary thought. So I think there is merit in finding a good route that makes the power of this technology available in a good way."
Neven and a Google spokesman described the facial-recognition app concept as "conservative" in relation to privacy.
"I think we are taking a sort of cautious route with this," the spokesman said. "It's a sensitive area, and it's kind of a subjective call on how you would do it."
While the opt-in requirement limits the app's utility, Neven foresees many circumstances where people would agree to be found.
"If you're an actor in L.A., you want to have everyone recognizing you," he said, sitting outside in the sun at Google's beachside office some 12 miles from Hollywood.