Main image of article Google API Lets You Play With Faces

Facial-recognition technology might become the Next Big Thing in security and social networking. Windows 10 already offers it on select PCs with infrared cameras (a feature known as Windows Hello), and Facebook has drawn the ire of privacy advocates for experimenting with it. Now Google is giving developers the chance to play around with the technology. Google’s new Mobile Vision API, rolled out as part of Google Play version 7.8, includes a Face API and Barcode API. The latter is pretty self-explanatory: Developers can use it to enable an Android app to detect barcodes in real time, at any orientation. The Face API opens up some interesting and nuanced areas for development, including the ability for an Android device to discern what exactly someone is doing—if they’re smiling, for instance, or if their eyes are closed. Face API features include facial recognition (“automatically determines if two faces are likely to correspond to the same person”), face tracking (which tracks faces that appear in videos), “landmarking” a “point of interest” on a subject’s face (whether an eye, nose, or other feature), and classification (where the aforementioned smiles and eye-closings come in). “A face that is detected is reported at a position with an associated size and orientation,” reads Google’s documentation accompanying the API. “Once a face is detected, it can be searched for landmarks such as the eyes and nose.” While facial recognition might seem like something of an odd feature for an app developer, there’s every chance it could become a ubiquitous technology in coming years. For that reason alone, the API is worth some time poking around in.