The search engine powerhouse Google is looking to expand into the foray of facial recognition with the reported acquisition in process of a Ukranian software company called Viewdle. According to Cnet, the talks between the two companies have been going on for about a year now, and that is really all that is known as far as business.
Due to the fact that the acquisition has not fully been completed yet, companies are restricted from disclosing any details about the buyout by law. There is one source that others have been working off of that say that Google has paid somewhere between $30-45 million.
Viewdle acts as a mobile augmented reality device that is apparently much more advanced that the one simple function of recognizing faces. Imaging Resource said in their article that Viewdle is also able to recognize objects and gestures on top of faces. This type of technology is a big part of the augmented reality movement.
Google has plenty of reasons to go after this sort of company. For one, in terms of competing against Facebook with Google+, this facial recognition software could be able to quickly tag pictures that users load up. Facebook actually recently acquired another similar recognition service called Face.com. Google+ has a lot to do if they want to catch up with Facebook, even though they want to be able to stand on their own as well.
Another point to consider is the implementation of Viewdle’s program into Google Glasses, which arguably is at the vanguard of user-friendly augmented reality so far, even though they are not available for user yet. It would be hard to imagine people using Google Glasses in the future to really need facial recognition software for their friends, but the novelty of it all is very much possible. This of course is just one possible idea, but Google has not made anything clear about their intentions with the purchase.
While facial recognition software is getting more popular among large companies like Facebook and Google, there is also one issue as far as privacy that has already been considered in Europe. During the summer, after Facebook’s acquisition of Face.com, the European Union became extremely critical of Facebook utilizing this software due to the privacy intrusions on users.
To have personal information like your own face get stored without your consent can easily be seen as a large privacy issue, and many proponents of online privacy found that Facebook’s practice was out of line. It got to the point that Facebook eventually agreed that they would cease from using the program in Europe towards the end of September.
For now, no one has really brought this up about Google and Viewdle, but this because the acquisition hasn’t even been made totally official just yet. Apart from any possible legal implications, this is a new step in Google’s “family” of companies, which Is becoming regularly extensive.