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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Real-time facial recognition is here, and it sounds scary

blippar1
Real-time facial recognition is here, and it sounds scary

Remember in the movie Minority Report when Tom Cruise ventures into a seedy dark alley, gouges out his eyes, and gets new ones so that he can roam worry free as a fugitive, to bypass the optical scanning that was everywhere in the city? That might be the future we’re headed towards, now that Blippar’s new Augmented Reality Facial Profiles is on the scene.

I’m mostly kidding. Blippar is an augmented reality app. Previously its mere function was scanning everyday items, and telling the user information about them—from an apple to a beer, from predetermined advertisements to general information. In its latest update, users can now scan the faces of 70,000 famous people, with what the company has adequately named “Augmented Reality Facial Profiles.” Point your phone at a magazine, a television, or whatever else, and the celebrity’s social media accounts and Wikipedia page are likely to pop-up.

70,000 celebrities are in Blippar’s database

Though this feature may not be officially launched yet, users will soon be able to create their own “Blipp” profiles via a selfie as well. In a halo like circle framing their head, a person’s inputted profile (including an “AR mood and aura,” according to Business Insider), select photos, favorite music, “celebrity lookalikes” and other social media (like Twitter) will float overhead. Users will be able to make their AR Facial Profiles private or public, so maybe you can deter a random passerby scanning your face against your will on the street.

But the risk still exists: after all, a similar facial recognition software in Russia was used to identify and out adult film stars. Though according to the BBC, Blippar has accommodated this potential hazard, making everything completely “opt-in” as to avoid these potential invasions of privacy.

An example of Blipp AR profiles.
An example of Blipp AR profiles.

“Our facial recognition technology combined with our knowledge graph enables people to express themselves through the things they love, including their hobbies, opinions, key fun facts, and so much more,” explained Ambarish Mitra, CEO of Blippar, in a statement. “This is a new, unique and fun way of showing who you are and of learning more about others.” Well, at least we can count out having to gouge out our eyes like Cruise in Minority Report.

You can download Blippar for iOS or Android for free. Photos courtesy of Blippar.

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