London, Nov 28: Google has reportedly developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered technology that alerts users in real time when someone looks at their phone over the shoulder.
Called "electronic screen protector", the software can use the front-facing camera on a smartphone to pick out faces and identify anyone who is not the owner, The Register reported on Tuesday.
Such a technology could be immensely useful as snooping is not just irritating. It can also result in loss of data in certain cases.
The technique -- which appears to be just an academic project at this stage rather than an upcoming feature -- will be presented at the December 4-9 Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in California, the report said.
A technology to prevent over-shoulder snooping, however, is not new.
More than a year ago, HP introduced laptops with its "Sure View" technology designed to prevent visual hacking with the press of a single button. It obscures the screen unless viewed face-on, making it difficult for others to view information on the screen.
Google's electronic screen protector, however, identifies the snooper. And it works quite fast.
It takes two milliseconds to detect each person's gaze, 47 milliseconds for each face recognition operation, and an average of 115 milliseconds per frame for face detection -- not enough time for a human to steal much of a glance, let alone to read private messages, the report said.