An augmented reality startup called Blippar is aiming to let users identify other people just by pointing their phones at them.
Before its latest update, the company’s eponymous app could already identify a number of objects, providing information about them when users’ aimed their smartphone cameras at them – for example, by identifying a famous painting. Now, the app can recognize 70,000 public figures, displaying around their heads icons with relevant links, such as a celebrity’s Twitter feed. Perhaps more importantly, users are invited to upload their own faces to the services so that other Blippar users can identify them.
It’s all based on facial recognition, of course, but unlike Russia’s FindFace app, which scans the social media site VKontakte to identify smartphone camera subjects whether they consent to it or not, Blippar’s system is entirely voluntary. As co-founder Omar Tayeb told the BBC, the app requires that users register their facial profiles themselves, and has ways of detecting if someone else is trying to load their image to the service. And users can de-register at any time.
With the legal pitfalls of biometric identification starting to become apparent, it’s a savvy approach that could keep Blippar out of trouble while encouraging new users to give the system a try.