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Google Phone Technology Sees Spies Looking Over Your Shoulder

Be it sitting on a train or in a coffee shop, we all know our text conversations are not private. It's too easy for a curious stranger's eyes to wander over to see what we are texting, or to see that NSFW photo someone just sent us. Well, those days of peeking at someone else’s text conversations might be finally coming to an end. A Google research project is developing software that can tell if someone is looking at your phone from over your shoulder, in an effort to preserve privacy while in public.


We're not hiding our conversations as well as we think we are.

Thankfully, new software will defeat prying eyes.

Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff will present their new electronic screen protector next month at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California. Their demonstration will have a Google Pixel phone use its front-facing camera and their eye-detecting AI to catch people looking at the screen.

Their Youtube video already demonstrates the software successfully interrupting a text conversation in progress, so that it can alert the phone's handler of the peeping perpetrator. A camera view appears on the screen, exposing and identifying the spy with a rainbow of vomit much like in Snapchat.

Living in a Minority Report world.

Ryu and Schroff claim their AI software can work in various lighting situations and can recognize a person's eye line gaze within two milliseconds. The software can operate that quickly because it runs locally on the phone, instead of sending-receiving data with a processor on Google's powerful cloud servers.

But the new gaze-detection software can and will likely become a two-edged sword. While it can protect your privacy from strangers around you, it can also learn more about your reading and viewing habits - and this is data, as with all user data these days, that can be commercialized.

How soon will it before this technology is incorporated into advertising and marketing, both in public and in the privacy of our own devices?

Some people would rather have time and resources spent on other, more humanitarian needs.

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h/t: Quartz,