If you live in the USA you are likely seeing news reports of the new Facial Recognition tools the police are getting. For about US$3,000 per unit they get a smart phone thing that will take a picture and compare it to the a law enforcement database and provide an ID for the person in question. It is nearly instant ID.
What is not being covered is the fact that this technology is being made available to smart phone developers via an API. That means we are going to see the same ability appearing in apps.
ReadWriteWeb is reporting that the Apple is making facial recognition part of the iOS 5 operating system. No surprise as RWW was predicting this would happen back in January. The new facial detection tools were recently found on Apple’s Developer website.
Get more information here: Facial Recognition Comes to iOS 5 via New Developer Tools
This means that within 6 months to a year there will be a flood of these apps. Privacy advocates are going nuts. They are all worried about what law enforcement will do with the technology. One reported plan use is to post the face of a belligerent drunk police have been called to remove to all establishments that serve alcohol in the area. However, with this new tech I can see bar and restaurant owners doing this on their own.
This could be a big step forward in enforcing a no-fly-list, which is mostly a mess in the USA.
Then there are the bad guys. Once we see $1 apps they will be using the tech too. How long do you think it will take for someone to make an app that checks faces against the photos in Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, and Facebook?
We have not even begun to scratch the surface of miss-uses to which this tech can be put.
Facebook is having problems with user acceptance of facial recognition. See: Facebook Makes It Easier to Opt Out of Facial Recognition Tagging Feature.