KLiK Moves iPhones a Step Closer to iMood Detectors

By Peter Bernstein May 10, 2012

I have gotten so many views and comments about two pieces I wrote about an app for smartphones that would enable the use to point their device at someone and determine if in essence they were friend or foe, that I’ve started tracking affective computing developments — things relating to moods, feelings and attitudes. This started when I wrote an April Fool’s Day item about a fictitious development of what I called a Bi-directional Sentiment Meter (B.S. meter) app for smartphones by MIT’s Media Labs. A little research showed that their Affective Computing Group’s work had them a lot closer to producing one than I thought.   So what’s new?

Check out KLiK, a just released 1.0 app currently for iPhones but soon for Android, that uses facial recognition to tag Facebook friends in real-time. In fact, it can do so even before your camera takes a picture. As noted in a posting by Liz Gannes on All Things D, the app comes from Tel Aviv-based Face.com which currently offers a facial-recognition API to 45,000 developers for a variety of uses.

How it works — neat, nerdy or just plain spooky

This is point and click at its easiest. Submit your Facebook credentials and the app analyzes all of your friend’s photos where they or you have been tagged. It takes the tedium out of the entire process of having to shoot, tag and upload simple. As Gannes highlights, the efficacy of being able to do this raises alarms with some people. KLiK has restricted the app by allowing it to only identify people you know. However, what about the people you do not know or even those whom you know but have not gotten permission to tag? Is it a good thing to in essence out them on Facebook?

Privacy has emerged as one of the hot topics of our times. Facial recognition, especially as it has been used in apps related to video surveillance with overt and covert sexual overtones, did in fact cause Google to back off using facial recognition, and prompted the distrust of giving online companies too much personal information that can be detected, inspected and redirected makes everyone including public officials a bit nervous. It is way too easy to conjure those with malicious intent using such capabilities to do not just salacious but incredible harmful things.

However, in a risky world, being able to quickly capture a picture of a “suspicious person,” so authorities can run a check, may be the next boundary breached on the personal privacy front.  Let’s face it (pardon the pun), the level of trust that Google, Facebook and others will do the right thing with our information, despite legal disclaimers and other assurances about not archiving and sharing that information, is rightfully low. Trust is hard to earn, easily broken and almost impossible to earn back, and history is not encouraging.

Back to the B.S. Meter

I’d like to end on a lighter note. I still believe in affective computing as a force for good as well as potential evil, and hope someday that my joke app becomes real. Until then, download KLiK, the reviews have been terrific. I can’t wait for the Android version so I can take this freebie for a spin.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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