Facial recognition app matches strangers to online profiles

An upcoming app for Android, iOS and Google Glass uses facial recognition technology to match passersby to their online profiles.

An upcoming app for Android, iOS and Google Glass uses facial recognition technology to match passersby to their online profiles.

(Credit: FacialNetwork)

Soon your face could be your calling card. An upcoming app for Android, iOS and Google Glass called NameTag will allow you to photograph strangers and find out who they are — complete with social networking and online dating profiles.

When you spot someone out and about that you want to identify, you can capture their face using your device's camera. The app will send the photo wirelessly to NameTag's server, where it will compare the photo to millions of online records and return with a name, more photos and social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where the person (or their friends) might have publicly posted photos of themselves.

And, if you're interested in that person in a more-than-passing fashion, the app's creator — FacialNetwork — is working on technology that will allow scanning of profile pictures on online dating sites, such as Plenty of Fish, OKCupid and Match.com.

In the US, it will also match the photo against over 450,000 entries in the National Sex Offender Registry and other criminal databases.

"I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us," said FacialNetwork's Kevin Alan Tussy. "It's much easier to meet interesting new people when we can simply look at someone, see their Facebook, review their LinkedIn page or maybe even see their dating site profile. Often we were interacting with people blindly or not interacting at all. NameTag on Google Glass can change all that."

Intentions aside, it seems to cross some pretty serious privacy boundaries. Generally speaking, people like to choose to whom they identify themselves; and having your online information freely available to anyone who sees you in public seems an uncomfortable prospect. Google seems to think so, too; the web giant does not currently allow facial recognition apps on the MyGlass app store.

However, the app could still be installed on a jailbroken device — and possibly used on other devices, as the NameTag website indicates. Tussy has sought to allay privacy fears, but his explanation does little.

"People will soon be able to login to www.NameTag.ws and choose whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others," he said. "It's not about invading anyone's privacy; it's about connecting people that want to be connected. We will even allow users to have one profile that is seen during business hours and another that is only seen in social situations."

It's a little unclear, but what that seems to indicate to us is that, if you want to keep your privacy — and your option to identify yourself — intact, you'll need to create a NameTag profile — opt-out, not opt-in.

It remains to be seen whether Google will change its mind on facial recognition apps for Glass before NameTag hits the market.

 

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