Viewdle lets Android smartphones recognize friends

Northern California startup Viewdle on Wednesday released software that lets Android-powered smartphones recognize people's faces.

The free SocialCamera application available at the Android Market or online at viewdle.com/products/mobile was billed as the first of its kind for US smartphone users.

"Viewdle SocialCamera is the first mobile camera app to encourage socializing and communication," said Viewdle co-founder and chief executive Laurent Gil.

"Consumers can now instantly share their photos based on who appears in them," he continued.

SocialCamera uses computer algorithms to create "faceprints" that people can tag with names and store in smartphones. The software then matches faceprints to subjects in subsequent photos.

Android smartphones can instantly connect names to those in photos and share the images with those involved using social networking service Facebook; photo-sharing website Flickr, or by email or instant messages.

SocialCamera was billed as the first in a line of facial-recognition software applications aimed at the consumer market.

High-powered players in September pumped $10 million into the Palo Alto, California startup devoted to crafting ways to let smartphones "see" things the same way people do and identify faces.

The influx of cash came from Qualcomm, BlackBerry Partners Fund, US electronics retail chain Best Buy, and Anthem Venture Partners, an investment firm that has backed Viewdle from the outset.

"We are giving smartphones human eyes," Gil told AFP in an interview when the funding was announced.

"Letting them see the world the way people do... it is artificial intelligence," he said. "It is happening."

Viewdle bills itself as the leading independent facial recognition company for consumer gadgets. Its technology is developed by the company's research team in the Ukraine.

Viewdle is the result of 15 years of research, rooted in work done at The Cybernetics Institute in Kiev, and got its first infusion of investor money - 2.5 million dollars - in June 2008.

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