Google is reportedly working on its next-gen facial recognition technology for its Pixel 4, and it is taking a rather unconventional path of gathering face data for its research. Employees of the search giant are going on the streets of New York to ask people for their face data, in exchange for $5 (roughly Rs. 340). These employees ask for your permission, get you to sign a consent form, and give you a $5 gift card for scanning your face. This new method of data collection is reportedly underway in many cities.
This offbeat data collecting method hints at Google looking to amp its face unlock feature on the Pixel 4 releasing this fall. While other companies opt for more conventional methods, Google has taken to the streets to ask for people's consent. ZDNet reports that Google employees were found to be flocking in teams asking people if they could collect their face data.
These employees are approaching people on the streets to collect data "to improve the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking." The data is collected in a phone hidden under a very large case. The case made it very difficult to see what's inside, but it is presumed to be the Pixel 4.
Once the volunteer offers their consent, they have to use the selfie mode on the hidden phone and move their face around to gather face data at different angles. In exchange, the Google employees offer a $5 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks.
The report recalls one user's bump-in with these Google employees. He spent almost five minutes giving different angles of his face data into this hidden phone. These employees said that they had "teams in many cities doing this." They even made him sign a waiver, which means Google probably has the rights to his face data.
When prodded about invasion of privacy, the user didn't think it was a big deal. "Google basically has my whole life on their servers already. And removing Google from my life just isn't going to happen from a practical point of view. I don't really care about data privacy because I think it's all an illusion anyway,” he said.
Separately, Android Police claims users in Miami, Florida also reported a similar interaction, except this time they were made to use a Pixel 3 XL to record their face data. The volunteers were told the data was for a "future Google product." In any case, if accurate, it could very well mean Google is gearing up to improve it Face Unlock technology for the Pixel 4. Perhaps, as mentioned, the phone inside the large case was the Pixel 4, and Google's efforts hint that they are doing everything they can to bring a more accurate and fast technology to this year's Pixel series, maybe even better than Apple's Face ID.