Facial Recognition with the iPhone May Lead to Pretty Creepy Apps

Last year, Apple purchased Swedish facial recognition firm Polar Rose for $22 million, and yesterday’s iPhone 4S announcement revealed that the technology is now baked into iOS and is touted as one of big new camera features. The iPhone is now a compact camera and mobile computer that can detect — and possibly recognize — faces.

The technology has some pretty neat potential applications. Fast Company writes,

[…] the implications are enormous, far beyond the scope of simple slideshows of your kids, automagically grabbed from your on-iPhone photo reel. Because face ID will be laced throughout the OS, it means social apps like Facebook and perhaps Twitter will be able to be sensitive to the ID tags, embedding them in automatically-generated status updates (should you enable such a feature). The use of face IDs could be a part of any future NFC credit card system, with the iPhone’s front camera taking a quick peek at the user’s face to check the account owner is indeed activating a payment, not some thief it doesn’t recognize. […] Since iPhones and iPads are finding much use in hospitals, then perhaps we can speculate that medical apps, particularly medical records apps, will be safer and more secure–if there’s a “recognize the patient’s face” feature.

On the flip side, it may prove to be Pandora’s box when it comes to privacy. The video at the top of this post is a Polar Rose demo of an app called “Recognizr”, which recognizes people’s faces and provides you with links to their social media accounts.

Imagine a world where every person on the street can be identified by simply pointing your phone at their face. Curious about a stranger? Point your camera at them to pull up their Facebook profile.

People who had concerns over facial recognition in Facebook photos are going to have a fit about this one…