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I’ve seen that face before somewhere… May 25, 2010

Posted by Mark Hillary in IT Services.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
What are the commercial implications for technology such as facial recognition?

It’s a technology that is already available today. Users of the popular Google Picasa photo-sharing site that ‘tag’ a friend in a photograph will find that the site scans their photo collection and suggests other photos where the same friend has appeared – asking if they also want to tag that photo.

But think of the implications if a computer can immediately recognise a person. Google recently launched a search tool called Google Goggles that lets users search the Internet for items using a photograph – so you can photograph something with your mobile phone and then search for whatever is in the photo. But they didn’t enable facial recognition for this tool – imagine if you could photograph a stranger on the train and find all their online social networks through a photo search. It’s a stalkers dream tool.

Commercially there should be immense opportunities for facial recognition to improve security, but the companies that are exploring these technologies also need to be aware of what people will tolerate and what is seen as beneficial. For example, most people would feel more secure at airports if passports used facial recognition technology.

But do you remember the 2002 Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report? It was set in the near future and focused on a computer that could see into the future – so the police could catch criminals before they ever committed a crime. One memorable sequence in the film shows Tom Cruise walking through a future city centre where the advertising billboards use facial recognition to profile who he is in real time and to change the advert to something appropriate to him as an individual consumer.

Privacy regulations and public mistrust are going to prevent something like that happening any time soon, but with freely available social networks now using facial recognition technology, are we already on the slippery slope to a place where anonymity is impossible?



1. Does regular data protection apply to location-aware ads? « - January 25, 2012

[…] In 2010 I wrote on this blog about some of the difficulties associated with facial recognition and privacy. Although biometric scanning is becoming more important, it’s still not really the method of choice for advertisers who want to recognise a consumer in a particular location. […]

2. http://tinyurl.com/teluwelsh37968 - February 7, 2013

I personally found this amazing posting , “Ive seen that face before somewhere ”,
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very good read. Thanks for your effort-Amos

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