Most everyone has heard about the ability to tag photos on Facebook using facial recognition software, but the technology is now being used in other areas of our lives, including retail stores and restaurants and even bars.
A growing number of businesses are setting up cameras linked to facial recognition software.
"It's helpful to businesses who want to know who their customers are," said CNET Editor Rafe Needleman.
Needleman says some malls are also testing the technology.
"They will recognize your age or your gender so if you walk up to a display wall at a retail establishment or mall or something like that and if you're a mid 40s white guy maybe they'll give you an ad for a BMW. If you're a woman, 20's, maybe you'll get an ad for something else," said Needleman
Needleman believes it's a matter of time before stores start using technology that not only recognizes but tracks your spending habits.
"So when you walk in a store it might know who you are just when you walk in and give you deals based on your past purchases," Needleman added.
Of course, not everyone wants that kind of information recorded and shared.
Privacy is one of the biggest concerns the Federal Trade Commission has with this technology. Take a recent study at Carnegie Mellon, for example.
"They took photos from a dating site where people were anonymous or using pseudonyms and they also got information from a social networking site where they had in general people's real name. Using facial recognition technology they were able to identify a lot of those users who were anonymous on the dating site," said Needleman.
Some bars are even using this technology to feed information to consumer sites like Scenetap.
"What's being used right now are apps that will look at a biz, say a bar and see how many men versus women there are, or their ages, so you can see what the scene is like at the bar," said Needleman.
So it's not just a privacy issue, but safety as well. The FTC is worried about where this technology can take us. Until that's all ironed out, Needleman says anything is possible.
"It's not out of the question that ten years from now we'll walk down the street and people will be wearing camouflage so they're not picked up by facial recognition trackers all over the place," said Needleman.
The FTC has taken community feedback on this issue in the past several months and is considering publishing recommendations for businesses to follow.
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