Google faces lots of work in facial recognition

Even if Google buys Riva, don't expect accurate and reliable photo search anytime soon
Stephen Baker

Reports that Google is angling to buy Riya, a company specializing in facial recognition, make plenty of sense. (First reported by Niall Kennedy)It's a natural area for search (and a strong focus of the mathematicians at the NSA, who would like to identify terror suspects in crowd shots).

But I've been looking into the challenges associated with facial recognition, and they're still substantial. Shadows on faces, shaving anomolies and make-up can befuddle the programs. Douglas Arnold, director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, says the science is still "primitive." That doesn't mean that Google shouldn't be investing in it, just that accurate and reliable results may not be around the corner.

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