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October 02, 2012

Google Readies Plan to Buy Viewdle, Improve Face Recognition

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

While Google's (News - Alert) face recognition capabilities haven't been regarded as the best as of late, a new report has emerged suggesting that Google may be looking to put a lot more behind that particular concept. A source familiar with the deal-making, which has been going on for just over a year now according to that source, says Google is nearly ready with a deal to buy facial recognition technology maker Viewdle from the Ukraine.

Viewdle's technology allows users – especially those on Android (News - Alert), as well as on Google+, Picasa and several other services – to automatically tag photos of friends. Viewdle actually has an app available called SocialCamera, which extends that automatic tagging capability to Facebook (News - Alert) friends. Viewdle even has an Android game available called Third Eye that uses the facial recognition technology to identify vampires and vampire hunters, allowing users to recruit an army or attack the same in what is slated to be a three-part game.

The deal between the two may close as early as later today, and early word about the purchase price suggests it's set to be somewhere between $30 and $45 million, with a big chance that the higher end of that range will be realized.

Google has a lot of reason to want to augment its facial recognition capabilities, especially with the upcoming release of the Google Glass system, which would benefit substantially from being able to tell users exactly who they're looking at and talking to at any given time. Additionally, Google's own systems aren't exactly up to snuff, as was seen at the launch of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

But it's safe to say improvement has taken place since then, and anything they can do to improve the technology will likely be well-received by its user base.

It also doesn't hurt matters that there are others getting into the facial recognition game, like Facebook, who recently purchased, and along with it, its Photo Tagger app, which automatically tags users in photos. Google almost certainly doesn't want its own facial recognition technology to be lapped by that of Facebook or any other competitor.

Viewdle by itself may not be enough to fully beef up Google's facial recognition systems, but it could represent that little extra edge they need to get it over the top. 

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Edited by Braden Becker
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