NameTag – Using Facial Recognition Software on Strangers

Why should we work so hard to memorize certain information these days when the much simpler and logical solution is to Google it instead? When you’ve got a random melody stuck in your head and can’t remember what song it is from, the first instinct is to Google it. Alas, Googling “Lalala la lala la” doesn’t actually bring back any useful results (although apps like Shazam might). How about when someone looks familiar but you just can’t place where it is you’ve seen them before? Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to Google their picture? Well, these days you might just be able to do that.

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On the official website for the new app NameTag it is written: Connect your info and interests with the world by simply sharing your most unique feature – your face.  Nametag links your face to a single, unified online presence that includes your contact information, social media profiles, interests, hobbies and passions and anything else you want to share with the world. You can search for people by simply typing in their name, which is not unlike Googling someone. But where NameTag breaks ground is the ability to upload anyone’s photo and conduct the search this way. The app is still being developed as I write this but in their press release the creators of NameTag have said that they will use dating websites (match.com, okcupid.com and plentyoffish.com) to obtain as much information as possible. It is said that this app was created for safety reasons – when you’re interacting with someone for the first time, NameTag helps you find out more about them, possibly even midway through that first interaction.

This app, however, raises issues of privacy. Already Facebook and other social networking sites are obtaining vast amounts of information from its users but at least on Facebook you have the ability to accept a friend or ‘unfriend’ someone, in this way at least having some control over who is able to obtain this information. Apps like NameTag are making me wonder how long it’ll be before Facebook starts offering a similar service with the wide database of images they store.

Of course, what NameTag is doing is simply scraping information from different databases that can already be found online (with a little bit of work). There is no reason one couldn’t do this manually without the app. But in this case, they would have to know their subject’s name, in the least.

Watch the NameTag demo video here.

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