What you need to know
- Google has confirmed that it paid people to scan their faces.
- A report about this surfaced earlier this month.
- Face unlock is being used as part of the Pixel 4's Motion Sense features.
Google threw the tech blogging world for another loop on July 29 when it shared a teaser video for the Pixel 4 to confirm two of its most-widely rumored features — air gestures and face unlock.
These features are part of something Google's calling "Motion Sense", and it's powered by the company's Soli chip. Face unlock has been present in tons of Android phones for years now, but Google's working to make its version the fastest and safest we've ever seen.
To make sure the Pixel 4's face unlock works as good as it can, however, Google's now confirmed that it had to conduct "field research" by going out on the streets and paying people with $5 gift cards to scan their faces. A report about this first surfaced earlier this month, but a Google spokesperson has now confirmed it.
Per an email sent to the The Verge:
Our goal is to build the feature with robust security and performance. We're also building it with inclusiveness in mind, so as many people as possible can benefit.
As for the security/privacy of how the field research works, Google says:
Although face samples inherently can't be anonymous, each participant is assigned an abstract identity number. We separately keep each participant's email address, in order to remove data upon request.
After 18 months have passed, Google will get rid of the face data it collected from these tests. Furthermore, while it still has the face scans, it's said that they're "encrypted and access restricted" with no connections to people's Google account if they have one.
It seems like Motion Sense will be one of the main selling points for the Pixel 4, so it's not surprising that Google wants to take its development seriously. How all of that research and scanning will pay off, however, remains to be seen.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
From the Editor's Desk: Navigating the Chromebook crunch of 2020
Chromebooks are wonderful little laptops for a great many people, but they're especially well-suited to children. Now if only retailers could keep them in stock this back-to-school season.
Here's every U.S. city with 5G coverage right now
5G deployment is moving fast and the list of cities with coverage is growing all the time. See if your U.S. city has coverage yet by Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T.
It's time to stop using SMS for two-factor authentication
Not all 2FA is equal. Using SMS to get a code might not be "better than nothing" after all.
Your Google Pixel 4 XL deserves only the best cases
Google's current flagship is a big glass slab of innovation and power, but it's not going to mean much if you drop it and shatter the screen. Protect your investment with a Pixel 4 XL case.