Do you wonder how Google sometimes trains its facial recognition software to recognize faces and such? Well we can probably assume that they use their employees’ or researchers’ faces. But apparently now one of their new techniques is to ask random people in public places if they could use their face to interact with a “mysterious phone”. This may possibly be the still-in-development Pixel 4 which has been rumored to be touting new facial recognition features and so they need to do more research and “training”.

An article in ZDNet shares how the writer’s friend, an engineer by profession, was just quietly sitting in a park when he gets approached by some folks who say they were working for Google. They asked him if he would lend them his face to test out a new product. They showed him a mobile device that was placed in a large case and asked him to take selfies with the phone. They said they were collecting data to develop a new kind, or at least an upgraded version, of facial biometrics for unlocking devices.

You would think that lending your face for such a project would have at least earned him a few bucks, but apparently all he got in return was $5 worth of gift cards from Amazon or Starbucks. So basically, as the title of the original article says, he sold his face for $5. He also signed a waiver although he didn’t read the fine print. The Google researchers didn’t really also explain what they will be doing with all the data of his face.

They did tell him that they have teams in several more cities doing this kind of thing as well. That means they have a big database of people’s faces to use in training the software. But if you’re a conspiracy theorist or just tech paranoid, you will probably cringe at all the data they now have from private individuals. And with recent data hacks and privacy issues, we can’t really blame you.

As for what that device was, we can only surmise that it’s the Pixel 4 since that’s their next big hardware supposedly. There has been speculation that they will be using facial recognition to unlock the device and also facial biometric payment and app sign-in, the latter two which are currently in beta for Android Q. We’ll find out in a couple of months probably as the Pixel 4 is expected to be unveiled by October.


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