Home Security Facial recognition – there is an app for that

Facial recognition – there is an app for that

BlippAR’s augmented reality app that recognises and identifies objects now has facial recognition. “Do I know you?” will be a thing of the past.

BlippAR is an advertising/marketing dream and a privacy nightmare. Point your smartphone camera at a piece of fruit, and it will tell you what it is and where to get it based on both nearby providores and advertisers like Coca-Cola, Heinz, Nestlé, Time and many more. Now advertisers will be able to identify who is in the store!

It’s a very disruptive technology from a very aggressive company that has the UK’s Entrepreneur of the Year at its helm. It is going places.

The app now has a growing database of faces and names put to them, including initially more than 70,000 celebrities. Users can also add their face to the app. It will attempt to recognise it from almost any source, printed and still photos, video, live camera, and more.

Facial recognition for the masses is a bold move. Google had to bow to public pressure and remove facial recognition from its Google Glass. It has been popularised by CBS's hit TV show "Person of Interest" where super computers can monitor your every move in real-time via almost any smartphone camera, security camera, or satellite image.


BlippAR chief executive Omar Tayeb told the BBC it has moved to allay any concerns saying that a privacy mechanism has been baked into the app. “It’s a totally opt-in service, the user has full control over what’s shown, and they’re able to deactivate it at any time.” But BlippAR's database is small in comparison to other moves.

Privacy, or lack thereof, is a thing of the past. Recently the Australian Government announced that its Federal Police and Foreign Affairs department can use the new Face Verification Service to match a person’s face against a new database that comes from driver licences, customs and immigration entry/exit photos, passports and more. Access will be rolled out to Defence and the ASIO after the legislative hurdles are cleared.

BlippAR may be a little late – the Chinese government is supporting a facial recognition start-up that has received investors from Foxconn and others to the tune of US$100m. Face++ is aimed at proof of identity in things like financial transactions, but it also has applications in IoT devices recognising their “owners” and in surveillance.

The Chinese government has recently mandated that Internet users must be identified by their real name and be tracked accordingly. It is providing Face++ with access to facial scans held in the Ministry of Public Security database that contains most of the 1.3 billion inhabitants.

From the various facial recognition points below (and as few four unique points can narrow the search down) age, gender, ethnicity, hair colour and coverage, even cosmetic surgery detection and more can be determined and then linked to marketing databases with location and personal information.

Facial recognition


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!