Eavesdropping on someone else’s smartphone screen is certainly an activity we experience almost every day whether it’s on public transportation or just about any public space. Consequently, various apps have been devised which are specifically designed to prevent them. However, none of them have been effective enough to truly put an end to it.
As a result, two Google researchers — Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff took up a project which they named “electronic screen protector”. It essentially makes use of a Google Pixel’s front-facing camera and an eye-detecting artificially intelligent technology that can evaluate whether more than one person is staring at the screen. The Googlers will be presenting the demo at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California.
Once it detects a suspicious intruder, the framework minimizes the app you were using and launches a camera view highlighting the person with a Snapchat-esque vomit rainbow. The team also claims, unlike other platforms, their implementation is capable of functioning in different sets of lighting conditions and poses. Furthermore, Ryu and Schroff are claiming a response rate of merely 2 milliseconds which is quite astonishing if true. The unlisted public video (embedded at the end) they shared shows the user’s messaging window close as soon as the perpetrator tries to read the chat.
Since the technology requires an always active camera access, the Googlers decided to process the data locally instead of sharing it with the company’s cloud servers. This should eliminate all the privacy concerns people might have. Of course, even if Google approves the project for Android, it will be a while before it will be made available to everyone. Perhaps, next year with the launch of Android P.