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Alphabet working to create smartphone-friendly tech that recognizes faces on the fly

In the future, Alphabet wants to make face and object-recognition capabilities available right on your handset.

Published onJanuary 27, 2016


Right now, Google Photos offers some pretty impressive facial recognition capabilities. Not only faces, but objects as well: from flowers, to cats, to beaches. However, the way Photos analyzes your pictures and organizes them to be searchable leans heavily on remote data centers that process and catalogue images using deep learning technology. In the future, Alphabet wants to make that kind of computing capabilities available right on your handset.

The Google-owning tech company Alphabet is seeking to make built-in image recognition. This would allow for such futuristic things as being able to point your camera at a friend and it be able to recognize her on the fly. Bypassing the upload process currently required by services like Google Photos would open the doorway for a number of practical uses such as identifying faces for transaction authorization.

Google Photos gets shared albums in latest update
Google Photos gets shared albums in latest update

Google’s machine intelligence group is teaming up with Movidius, a unit and semiconductor startup also owned by Alphabet, to make this vision a reality. Google has purchased a number of Movidius chips called the MA2450 as well as the chip’s associated software to begin development. Google made no indication regarding a timeline for when we might expect to see this tech in the commercial market, but Movidius Chief Executive Remi El-Ouazzane did note that, “This collaboration is going to lead to a new generation of devices that Google will be launching. And they will launch in the not-too-distant future.”

What are your thoughts regarding Alphabet’s initiative to bring face and object recognition to portable devices? Is this heralding an end of privacy and the beginnings of an Orwellian dystopia, or are we looking forward to some seriously awesome and exciting technology? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

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