Google Creates Anti Phone Tracking Device that Detects People Snooping Over your Shoulder
Have you ever stopped to use your phone on a crowded train – only to catch someone looking over your shoulder at your screen? Well, Google is creating a technology designed to combat that behavior.
Google researchers have reportedly developed an “electronic screen protector” that will alert you when a “shoulder surfer” is lurking behind you.
Essentially, Google’s technology works like machine-learning software. It uses your front-facing camera to pick out faces, then identifies anyone who isn’t the owner. If that unidentified face is suspected to be looking at the screen, the user is alerted that someone is behind them snooping on their texts or web browsing.
Google’s technology is just an academic project at this point. It’s scheduled to be unveiled at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in California later this year.
How Does the Anti Phone Tracking System Work?
In preparation for NIPS, Google has released a video showing how the technology works. In the video, someone’s conversation in Hangouts is repeatedly interrupted when the front-facing camera detects strangers looking at the screen.
As you can see in that video, a red bounding box is placed around the stranger’s face. As if that wasn’t obvious enough, the technology also makes a stream of rainbow vomit (a la Snapchat) appear from the stranger’s mouth. There’s also a warning label saying, “A STRANGER IS LOOKING ALERT!”
We don’t have technical details about the system at this time. However, the system reportedly uses a gaze tracking technology to determine when a stranger’s eyes are looking at the screen. The technology identifies the face and gaze simultaneously. The system takes two milliseconds to detect each person’s gaze, 47 milliseconds for each face recognition operation, and an average of 115 milliseconds per frame for face detection – so even if someone tracked your phone with a really fast gaze, it’s unlikely they’re going to notice anything.
The technology was developed by researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff. Stay tuned for more information about this anti-phone tracking software in the future – including whether or not it will be available on Android models next year!