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    With My Little Eye: Did Google Just Debut a New Spying Toy?

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    Google announced a number of features for its apps, products and software at its I/O developer conference -- one of them is an app that can comprehend what your smartphone camera sees.

    During its I/O 2017 developers conference, the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced Google Lens, new technology coming soon to smartphones.

    Google Lens is an augmented reality camera app, whose main feature is to apply image recognition to actually understand what the phone camera sees at any given moment.

    Uses for such technology are countless: according to Pichai, the app will be able to, for instance, recognize and identify a flower you are going to snap a photo of.

    It will also recognize wireless network names and passwords printed on stickers on Wi-Fi routers, and automatically connect the smartphone to this network.

    One of the most obvious uses for the technology is text translation: Pichai demonstrated that the app can recognize Japanese text on a photo and offer a machine translation.

    There are more complicated scenarios: the app can recognize a business storefront, query the search engine and promptly tell you its name, customer rating and other related information. Users will be able to decide on a restaurant for dinner, simply by taking a photo of the building.

    The company is going to integrate the Lens into its newly-developed Google Assistant app. So, for instance, by taking a photo of the cinema, Lens will recognize the name and location of the theater, and Assistant will offer to buy you tickets and add the event to your calendar.

    Lens can be also used for intelligent photo manipulation. For example, in a photo snapped through a chain link fence, the app can edit out the fence.

    Considering Google's controversial reputation, with talk about the company surveilling its customers, how might users feel carrying around a tiny little spy in their pockets, capable of understanding everything it sees? And what if Google finally builds a smart contact lens with a built-in camera, which it patented back in 2014?

    Another feature presented at I/O is new Google Photos functionality that would allow smartphones to actually track how users use their phones and identify their friends among contacts — and then offer to share photos automatically. Imagine your smartphone tracking all of your social interactions, learning who your friends are, all while you sleep… Creepy, huh?

     

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    Tags:
    surveillance, smartphone, image recognition, Android, Google Lens, Google, Sundar Pichai, United States
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