FindFace, a newly released smartphone app, has taken Russia by storm and is potentially putting public anonymity in danger due to facial recognition. The app, developed by Artem Kukharenko and Alexander Kabakov, allows users to photograph people and work out their identities, with reliability sitting around 70%. It works by comparing photographs with the social media website Vkontakte, a hugely popular social media site in Russia similar to Facebook. With more than 200million users, the app is able to identify someone within seconds.
The implications for this kind of application are far-reaching and can be potentially invasive. Not only would it be intrusive to have a stranger simply taking a picture of you and later finding out who you are and even contacting you. Or even if retailers were able to use this technology to see your browsing habits to target you in advertisements. Law enforcement would be able to use this facial recognition to pick suspects out of a crowd and swiftly identify them.
Since its recent launch, the app has garnered 500,000 users and almost 3million searches have been conducted on more than 200million users through the website Vkontakte. What sets this software apart from other facial recognition is the speed and efficiency matches are conducted. The algorithm used is far more efficient than others as it is able to process and search through more than a billion photographs in less than a second, all by using one normal computer.
The creators of FindFace look for further opportunities with the software as they believe it can revolutionise online dating, with people being able to photograph those who interest them leading to potential meet ups through online social media. This of course does not seem like a legitimate or even moral way of meeting people but the potential implications of this technology are far reaching. The software can be used on any photographic database but currently not Facebook as the social media site stores image content in a far more complicated manner. Both Kukharenko and Kabakov intend to sell their software to the highest bidder, so there is no knowing what organisation or company might adopt this technology.
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