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Google's AI can tell when someone is peeping at your phone

Over-the-shoulder face detection could keep your data private.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
November 28, 2017
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Face detection isn't just for signing you in or making silly animations... it could also keep nosy bus passengers from snooping on your phone. Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff are about to present research into an "electronic screen protector" that uses AI-based eye detection in the front camera to determine when someone is looking over your shoulder. In the demo video (below), the app switches over to a camera view that shames the spy with rainbow vomit -- you'd know someone was being intrusive before they had time to feign innocence.

As the recognition happens on the phone rather than in the cloud, the technology can recognize a rude viewer in as little as 2ms. It should also work in different lighting conditions and poses.

There's no mention of whether or not this will ever become a shipping feature. We've asked Google if it can say more about the project ahead of the presentation. However, it's easy to see this becoming an option, even if it's not something you'd want to run non-stop (that would likely kill your battery life). You could turn it on when reading sensitive email or watching a video. This wouldn't prevent people from seeing things in their peripheral vision, but it could encourage peeping types to mind their own business.

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