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Google AI detects strangers looking at your phone
December 11, 2017, 4:43 pm

In future you will not have to worry about strangers looking over your shoulders at your screen. Google’s researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that can spot when someone is sneaking a peek at your screen.

At this stage it is not clear whether Google will add the software, which is still in its research phase and is reportedly called an ‘e-screen protector’, to future versions of Android. The process behind the screen protector is quite simple: it uses your phone’s front-facing camera in combination with some face- and gaze-detection algorithms to identify anyone looking at your display.

The program reacts almost instantaneously to a suspicious face and switches the user’s screen to catch the culprit red-faced, and tagging them. According to reliable reports, the system works in all sorts of different lighting conditions, and has a reaction time of just two milliseconds. With that speed, even a passing glance is likely to be spotted.

When, or if, Google brings this feature to Android, it will be a perfect example of the sort of small software tweaks AI can offer mobile devices. Google is doing more and more on-device machine learning with the help of its TensorFlow Lite software, and has added simple tools that automatically detect numbers and addresses when you are copy and pasting text, and suggest quick replies to your emails, for example.

Features like this may look trivial in isolation, but collectively they are going to add up to a whole lot more. Machine learning and AI are already becoming the big differentiators between smartphones — so expect to see more like this in the near future.


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