Viewdle for Android Mashes Up Augmented Reality, Facial Recognition, and Social Networking [Video]

Viewdle is an app that was being shown off at Mobile World Congress 2011 that really caught my eye. Using an augmented reality interface, where you point your camera to the world and your phone screen superimposes data on top of the image, these guys have developed a way for the phone to not only recognize faces without any need for sending data to remote servers, but it also links up to friends on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Right now they have the app running on the Motorola Droid, but on a testing device, they’ve drilled deep into some Texas Instruments hardware to provide idnentifications about 50% faster. The sad part is, Viewdle is aiming this at OEMs, so they can bake social facial recognition right into the OS. A lofty and awesome goal, but it does mean we won’t be seeing this app standalone in the Android Market anytime soon.

Viewdle’s been quietly working on this app for a little over a year, and have recieved funding from the likes of the BlackBerry Partners Fund and Qualcomm. They’re also tight with Texas Instruments, who was featuring them at their booth at Mobile World Congress 2011.  The app could certainly be great for automatically tagging friends in photos as you take them, but what I’m mostly excited about is how this kind of thing actually makes augmented reality useful. As is, it’s used as little more than a gimmick for points of interest browsing, but as soon as object and facial recognition get into the picture, AR gets a lot more compelling. Check out our view of the app in action below.

Personally, I find this stuff awesome, and really hope some forward-thinking cell phone manufacturer jams it into their handsets. For those interested, Viewdle has an SDK available, which you could use to enhance your own app – find out more at their website.

  • Sounds like there could be a ton of privacy implications in this app…not sure it’s a good thing at all. And safety too, as predators, child molesters could use it to get names, locate victims with just a photo. And then there are people who are trying to hide from abusive ex partners, law enforcement people undercover, etc. Where are the risk management people on this?

  • Tuttle

    Yes it’s amazing. It’s very George Orwell. very Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. What we know is that new technologies have both positive and negative impacts on the world. Just like google goggles there will be a bunch of privacy issues to work through. But once technology is developed it can’t be undone. So we’ll just have to deal with that reality.

    • Lindsay

      true, that it can’t be undone. But it can, to a certain degree, be regulated. We do that when we say it’s illegal for someone to put a camera in a bathroom or in a tenant’s apartment…the technology exists, and yet using it has legal implications. I would like to see similar controls on this…the potential for damage far outweighs ANY benefits.

  • Anonymous

    This new technology would allow instant tagging of friends in pictures
    straight to the social network via installed FB aps and the like.
    However even more far reaching are the possibilities of recognizing
    friends of friends when scanning a crowd and having stats and
    connections hover about them in “Minority Report”  fashion.  The 
    possibilities for greater human connections in real life are truly
    staggering. Of course there are etiquette questions that need to be answered, like how creepy it would be to have someone approach you saying they just recognized you as a friend of a friend in the crowd,  but all in all the positives far outweigh the negatives. I can see this being very useful in an emergency situation where you need help in unfamiliar surroundings and you realize you are two degrees of separation away from two people you find in your camera space. Also in recognizing dangerous people, if linked to a wireless database, with their stats etc. floating about.

  • Jm

    app is crap. their face recognition is bogus.

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