What happens when you combine face recognition, Facebook and Foursquare?

Summary:When you go to your local coffee shop, casino or other location, you can check in with a location-based game such as Foursquare. But in many cases, that process could be automated: your entrance will already have been observed by local CCTV cameras, including the ones that operate inside shops and government offices.

When you go to your local coffee shop, casino or other location, you can check in with a location-based game such as Foursquare. But in many cases, that process could be automated: your entrance will already have been observed by local CCTV cameras, including the ones that operate inside shops and government offices. At the moment, the CCTV software doesn’t know who you are, but it could. It could match your face with a database that in most cases has multiple pictures for around half a billion people: it’s called Facebook.

When raising this idea on his blog, Mark Cuban says: “Of course there would be a battle over whether or not a store or venue should be ‘opt in’ vs automated recognition, but that’s not a software issue. The reality is that it solves ‘the path of least resistance’ issue with check-ins for location-based software. Individuals never do any of the work. The store/host recognizes you are there and rewards you for allowing your identity and information to be captured and linked. If Amazon can ‘welcome us back’ and offer us personalized specials, why shouldn’t brick and mortar establishments?”

This sort of idea could be pursued without face recognition. Alternatives might be to grab your identity from your mobile phone, or read whatever RFID-based transport or bank cards you might have in your pocket. Of course, the store will find out who you are if you buy something using a bank card, or if you use a loyalty card -- that’s what they’re for. Perhaps it could get you to check in with your card, at the door, instead of checking out with it.

It seems to me that companies and governments are going to use AI-based software to analyse CCTV footage whether they publicise it or not, and whether citizens like it or not. It’s certainly going to happen with Minority Report-style advertising (see video, below). Companies could make the whole process more palatable by turning it into a game. The future is all about swapping privacy for reward points.

People who don’t want to be tracked will have to stop using mobile phones (and definitely not use Bluetooth phones on contracts), stop using bank cards and travel cards, and start hiding their faces. (I might just go into businesses selling false noses, ski-masks, niqabs and burqas, while they’re still legal.) But in the longer term, people can be recognised by other means, such as their gait.

You might just as well stay at home, and let them track what you do on the net.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU48yesvw9E In Tokyo, facial recognition technology in billboards read your face and run tailored ads. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.

Topics: Tech Industry

About

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first webs... Full Bio

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