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Recognizr can identify you by your photo alone

A new prototype application from the Swedish firm The Astonishing Tribe can auto-discover social-networking information about someone based on nothing more than a mobile phone photo.

You know all those times when you recognize someone on the subway or on the street but can't quite remember who they are?

Well, a new technology from the Swedish firm The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) called Recognizr could soon help you figure out who they are so that you can get up and greet them by name.

According to an article published Tuesday in Popular Science, Recognizr is a new application that can figure out who someone is--and auto-discover social networking information about them--based solely on a photo (see video below).

PopSci, riffing on the growing field of augmented reality, called the technology "augmented identity."

"Mashing up face recognition technology, computer vision, cloud computing and augmented reality with the complex digital lives many of us lead on the Internet," PopSci wrote, "TAT has created an app that allows you to gather information on a person and their social networking life simply by pointing your camera phone at their face."

On the one hand, this is pretty creepy. On the other, it's hardly surprising if you've been following the natural progression of technology over the last few years. Facial recognition technology has come a long way, supported in part by the casino industry's never-ending goal of knowing everything about everyone who comes into their establishments.

But there's also been more consumer-friendly advances. A company called Riya built a technology that could identify faces and objects in sets of photos and then pick out the same person or object in sets of photos. That company was later purchased by Google.

Of course, being able to pick out who someone is based on no more than a quickly snapped photo is an advertisers' dream, even if Recognizr seems to take some steps to protect privacy. As PopSci put it, "Where social networks go, advertisers and other, more invasive data-mining schemes are sure to follow. But privacy geeks can take a pre-emptive pipe-down; you have to opt in to the service and upload a photo and profile in order to be ID'd by the system."

Recognizr is said to be compatible with the iPhone and Android, though no publicly available apps are available for either platform.