Google is experimenting with a new approach to gathering face data involving public locations and gift cards.
As ZDNet reports, Google is sending out “many groups in many cities” armed with a modified smartphone and gift cards in a try to collect as much facial data as they can. If approached, the individual will clarify they’re working for Google and gathering data to “enhance the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking.” If you happen to agree to assist, an unknown smartphone in a large case can be handed to you with an instruction to move it round in selfie mode to seize your face from a lot of angles.
As soon as the facial capture is over a waiver is signed and a gift card provided to the participant worth $5 for either Amazon or Starbucks. It appears likely that by agreeing to take part, signing the waiver, and accepting the gift card, members are giving up their face data for Google to use as they want.
As to why Google is collecting this data, all the proof points to the Pixel 4 which, as Android Police found last month, is anticipated to have a face authentication system just like Apple offers using Face ID on iPhone. Such a system must be trained, though, and that requires faces to train with. Clearly, Google thought hitting public locations with gift cards can be one of the best ways to gather fresh data, and it appears to be working.