(via Mashable) Google is working on a facial recognition mobile app that would allow users to snap a picture of a friend or new acquaintance — and then access his or her Google Profile contact information, according to multiple reports.
The as-yet-unnamed app is capable of grabbing a Google Profile user’s name, email address and phone number. The technology is also capable of accessing Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or other online photos and data.
Naturally, Google has to wrestle with the privacy implications. How do you harness the power of this technology while still allowing individuals to maintain some semblance of anonymity?
Right now, Google is working on an opt-in model. Google Profile users have to elect to participate, and they must explicitly give Google permission to use their profile data and picture. If they don’t, the photo app won’t recognize them.
Googler Hartmut Neven is in charge of the company’s image-recognition applications; his company, Neven Vision, was acquired by Google in 2006. He told CNN that people are right to be wary about this kind of technology.
“In particular, people will become worried and 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.”
The app makes use of Neven’s facial recognition technology, which is already being used in Picasa, Google’s photo-sharing application. And similar object-recognition technologies developed by Neven at his previous company are being used in Google Goggles.
Google’s balancing of high technology and human privacy has come under fire in recent months. Last fall, the company had to settle a privacy-related lawsuit when its social product, Google Buzz, shared personal data without user consent. And the company was subject to international scrutiny over Street View privacy violations; these issues came to a head when the FCC opened an investigation into the matter last November.
We’ll have to wait to see if Google can skirt privacy violations while still rolling out really interesting apps like this one. What’s your opinion on this app?
Info taken from Mashable