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Facial Recognition Company Acquired By Google

July 24, 2011

Google has acquired Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt), a startup company that develops facial recognition technology, according to an announcement posted to the acquired firm’s website.

“Joining Google is the next thrilling step in a journey that began with research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in the 1990s and continued with the launching of Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt) in 2004,” the company’s statement read.

“We’ve worked hard to advance the research and technology in many important ways and have seen our technology come to life in some very interesting products. At Google, computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products (such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles), so it’s a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience,” PittPatt officials added.

The acquisition was confirmed by Google in a separate statement, Leena Rao of TechCrunch.com reported early Saturday morning.

“The Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition team has developed innovative technology in the area of pattern recognition and computer vision. We think their research and technology can benefit our users in many ways, and we look forward to working with them,” that statement said, according to Rao.

According to Rao, the team at PittPatt has developed the means to match a person’s face in photos and videos, through the use of complex algorithms that detect, recognize, and track an individual’s facial features.

James Niccolai of IDG News adds that the software development kit “can do various types of facial recognition, including tracking faces in videos and sorting photos according to whose face appears in each photo, according to pages on its website that can still be found in Google’s cache. It also makes a software development kit.”

Back in May, as the Daily Mail reported, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told those in attendance at the company’s Big Ten conference that it was “unlikely” that they would pursue facial-recognition technology, adding that he was concerned about the accuracy of the technology and felt it was “too creepy” for the Menlo Park, California-based company to pursue.

“The controversial technique has angered privacy campaigners who claim that it would be a further erosion of privacy and civil liberties,” the newspaper reported at the time. “Facial recognition would work by scanning in a photograph of somebody’s face in order to potentially reveal personal information about them”¦ Crime fighters argue that it could be used to trace suspects who have been recorded on CCTV. But civil liberties groups say it is an invasion of privacy.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, according to Niccolai.

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