So you’re sitting on the subway, or at a coffee shop, and you kind of fancy the person at the next table. If you knew their name you’d be googling them. Right? So why not take their picture and run it through an app to find out as much as you can about them? That’s possible now through an application developed in Russia called FaceFind.
The app is available for iPhone and Android, but at the moment it’s mostly for people who use the Russian version of Facebook. That platform is called Vkontakte, or VK, and it allows outside applications to suck out its data in a much more free and open way than Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat. So along with our partners at Heat Street, we went to Moscow and tried it out.
By the way, all the data on social networks is actually stuff people provide for free, and the big social network use it make money. Twitter sells the so-called “fire-hose” of tweets, LinkedIn sells back-end access so companies can search your resume more effectively, and Facebook has developed quite sophisticated ways of using the aggregated information on their platforms to provide ever-improving mechanisms for targeted advertising.
Back to FindFace and Russia. The founders of the app claim it has a 70% accuracy rate. When we weren’t getting shooed away from folks on the street, we found that claim to be pretty accurate.
It’s safe to say a number of governments with the budgets for an expensive security apparatus are already using some sort of facial recognition technology. Google and Facebook are working on this stuff as well. The website ComputerWorld.com reports that “Facebook’s DeepFace can tell whether the subjects in two different photographs are the same person with 97% accuracy” and they say that’s “even better than the FBI’s own Next Generation Identification system.”
But now there’s a facial recognition app for consumers and it’s free. So we asked the founders what they’re really up to? Are they going to sell this technology to governments? Or retail chains who want to know more about you? For now it’s just a really good way to get laid in Moscow.