Google confirms it was buying facial data, and it’ll improve the Pixel 4

Google was reported to be stopping people on the street and offering them a $5 gift card for a picture of their face earlier this week and now, we know why – it’s for the Pixel 4.

Google has revealed the company was asking for images for faces to help develop its facial recognition technology – specifically to ensure it works better with a diverse set of faces.

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According to The Verge, Google is hoping to use the data to improve the security and performance of the Pixel 4 while simultaneously enhancing its facial technology.

As well as compensating selfie-takers for their time and data, Google offers them added control over their data. Obviously, selfies can’t really be anonymous but –  according to AndroidPolice – Google did assign each participant a random identity number. 

Google also kept participant’s email addresses in a separate database with the option for participants to contact the company to have their data removed at a later date.

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We didn’t know for sure at the time but now it seems clear Google is ramping up development of its facial technology ahead of the launch of face unlock on the Pixel 4. Yesterday, Google revealed the feature in a YouTube video:

Google Pixel 4 looks set to be ditching the notch in favour of a larger forehead with a bullet point list-worthy amount of sensors to accommodate the facial tech and selfie cameras:

  • Face unlock IR camera
  • Front-facing camera
  • Ambient light/proximity sensor
  • Speaker 
  • Soli radar chip
  • Face unlock Dot projector
  • Face unlock IR camera
  • Face unlock Flood Illuminator 

The return of Project Soli was also confirmed alongside the Face unlock reveal. Project Soli allows for enhanced gesture controls. Project Soli will also help with Face unlock by detecting when the user raises their phone to unlock it.

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