Most modern smartphones have a front-facing camera which you can use to snap selfies. And while it may not be as secure and accurate as the Apple TrueDepth camera that powers Face ID on the iPhone X, you can also use the front cameras on some phones to login to your device using facial recognition.

Now two researchers at Google have added gaze tracking to not only let your phone recognize your face, but also to let you know if someone is peering at your phone over your shoulder.

They’ll demonstrate their “electronic screen protector” at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference next week, but a brief video demo gives you an idea of how the software works.

While there are already systems that let you unlock your device by looking at it, the new software helps protect you from spying eyes when your device is already unlocked.

It does this by performing face identification and gaze tracking in real time. It can tell when an authorized user is looking at the device… and it can perform an action when an unauthorized user is looking at the phone at the same time.

In the demo video, for example, the phone detects when someone standing behind the phone user is peering at the phone and it stops showing a text messaging app and instead pops up a screen showing the spy.

It’s unclear if Google has any plans to incorporate this software into future versions of Android or release the tool as a standalone app. But at the very least, this technology demonstrations shows that the front camera can be used for a lot more than just snapping selfies.

via The Android Soul

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5 replies on “Googlers develop tool to alert you when someone’s looking at your phone over your shoulder”

  1. Seems like a useless feature. Google seems to pay some of their researchers to waste resources. I guess it’s okay since Google has lots of money.

    1. If you don’t pay people to research stuff — and sometimes out-of-the-box stuff — innovation suffers. Google, like any good high tech company, has a large research department where employees are given a sizable amount of autonomy when it comes to deciding what to invest their time and effort it.

  2. LOL. From this video, seems like a human would notice the creepy person standing behind them before the phone does.

    Seems like a real snooper would probably use some sort of long range viewing device and wouldn’t be detected with face-detection.

    1. I work 16 hour days and come home to kids. When I’m heading home on the metro, I don’t notice anything… This sounds amazing.

      1. OK, I can understand how in a crowded environment, such as what you describe on public transportation, that this might be useful. That use case scenario isn’t well represented in the video.

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