Google acquires facial biometric company

Published 2 August 2011

Following Facebook’s decision to implement biometric facial recognition software, Google has acquired a company to boost its facial recognition capabilities; the search giant recently purchasd Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt), which develops technology that can search images and videos for a specific face

Following Facebook’s decision to implement biometric facial recognition software, Google has acquired a company to boost its facial recognition capabilities.

The search giant recently purchased Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt), which develops technology that can search images and videos for a specific face. PittPatt originated in the 1990s as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute and eventually branched out in 2004.

Google already uses many of the PittPatt’s technology in its products including Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles.

The move is contradictory to Google’s previous actions and statements as the company developed and then later abandoned facial biometric technology due to privacy concerns.

In June speaking at the All Things Digital D9 conference in California, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, said, “We built [facial biometric] technology and we withheld it.”

He added, “As far as I know, it’s the only technology Google has built and, after looking at it, we decided to stop.”

I’m very concerned personally about the union of mobile tracking and face recognition,” Schmidt went on to say. In particular, Google was concerned that facial recognition capabilities could be used both for good and “in a very bad way.” As an example, Schmidt pointed to how an “evil dictator” could use facial recognition to identify people in a crowd and use that technology “against” its citizens.

The company’s latest acquisition suggests that despite the company’s concerns, it still deems facial biometrics a worthy investment.

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