Machine vision: Google's going to give your smartphones and tablets new eyes
Smartphones are little snitches. They'll tell almost any company that asks about your location, your contacts, and your communications. Now they can read your fingerprint, count your steps, and know when you're driving, too. It's hard to imagine what a company could do to make smartphones -- or its bigger cousin, tablets -- gather more data than they already are.
That's where Google comes in. The company has been working to create devices that can match a 3-D view of your surroundings to your location, essentially giving your devices eyes that can see the physical world around them instead of only the digital world you access through them. Its efforts to build these technologies in a consumer device were first shown in a smartphone, but the Wall Street Journal reports that it's working on a tablet, too.
Google is reportedly planning to release this tablet before its annual developer's conference in June, with some 4,000 prototypes ready for developers to experiment with in coming months. Smartphones and tablets are about to become even bigger snitches than they were before.
Whether you think that's horrifying or exciting depends on your outlook. Google is hoping that you will think the ability to navigate a grocery store or play hide-and-seek with a virtual friend is exciting enough to make the further erosion of your privacy seem like a fair price in exchange. People who worry about the information Google and other companies can gather would probably prefer it if users wouldn't compromise their privacy for small novelties.
It doesn't really matter how you feel about these devices: they're coming either way, and before long they will probably be included in a majority of smartphones and tablets. Then some companies can swoop in and release devices that don't include this invasive technology, that don't know where your sex toys are, in exchange for a few hundred dollars more than you'd normally pay for a smartphone.
But for now, smartphones and tablets are going to be the biggest snitches this side of Judas, and we can thank Apple, Google, Facebook, and basically every other tech company for that.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]