When the Pixel 4 launches this fall, it’ll feature several signature features, some more exciting than others. For example, the phone will pack the first dual-lens camera in Pixel history, and we know that thanks to Google’s official Pixel 4 teaser that showed the phone’s rear design. Several reports also claimed that the front side of the handset will house at least two features that were never before seen on Pixel handsets, including one that’s not available on any other smartphone to date. Now, Google just confirmed one of them in the best possible way.
Leaks a few days ago showed us the Pixel 4’s alleged front design complete with those asymmetrical bezels that are slightly less hideous than the Pixel 3’s massive notch. We learned that the top bezel will include a slew of cutouts, housing components for Google’s Face ID equivalent as well as the Project Soli radar system.
The Pixel 4 is expected to support 3D face recognition just like the iPhone X, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS series phones. Soli, meanwhile, is the codename of Google’s technology that uses radar to pick up gestures and turn them into actions on a device. Now we’ve learned that Google is already testing its own Face ID out in the wild in several locations around the world, ZDNet reports.
Google employees in New York asked one engineer whether he’d share his face data with Google for $5 — yes, that’s not a joke. Google is harvesting face data to train computers to recognize faces. And it’s paying anyone interested in sharing the data a symbolic amount of money in Amazon or Starbucks gift cards. Here’s his account:
I was sitting in the park on a sunny day, enjoying the weather and I see a few guys walking around approaching people with phones like they’re taking a survey.
Eventually, one of them works his way over to me and says something to the effect of ‘Hi, I work for Google, and we’re collecting data to improve the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking.’
The Googlers gave him a phone in a very large case which he used in selfie mode to provide his face data:
I basically had to use selfie mode and move my face around to get different angles of my face.
The fact that Google is collecting data isn’t really a surprise since it’s what Google does on a regular basis. But to launch Face ID on the Pixel 4, Google actually needs to train AI on lots and lots of faces, and the best way to get that data without infringing on anyone’s privacy is to do it out in the open.