Googlers develop AI that can catch people looking at your screen


Google researchers have developed a tool that can alert you when a stranger is peeking at your screen over your shoulder. The "electronic screen protector", as it is called by inventors Florian Schroff and See Jung Ryu, will be presented at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference that will be held in California next week. 

So, what is this "electronic screen protector" and how does it work? In a nutshell, it appears that it is a software application that uses machine learning and the front camera of a phone to scan for faces. If the tool detects a person who isn't the owner gazing at the screen, it will alert the user that their privacy is being violated in real time. 


As you can see from the demo video above, the software repeatedly interrupts a Google Hangouts conversation when it establishes that a person is peeking over the owner's shoulder. Apparently, the tool can detect a gaze in just 2 milliseconds while facial recognition takes about 47 milliseconds. 

The researchers say that the electronic screen protector works well under various lighting conditions and can detect multiple head poses. Still, we can't help but wonder how would it affect battery life or what happens if you're trying to watch a video with a friend. 

While this feature may seem like a great candidate for the next major version of Android, at this stage, it appears that it's more of an experimental project. However, we could see something similar implemented as an app or service at some point in the future. 

source: NIPS via Digital Trends

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9 Comments

1. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Well, I do mind it when someone stares at the screen while I'm texting! I might try it!

8. JC557

Posts: 1925; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

This is actually why I don't really mind a color shift or viewing angle drop off when tilting the phone. Hell, Zagg makes screen protectors that offer this function. For the most part I'm viewing my phone dead on and rarely am I sharing a 5.5" display with several other people.

2. KingSam

Posts: 1505; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

A little when icon would be nice.

3. evolution

Posts: 16; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

yeah I agree so it's sorta like they can't tell you've spotted them LOL... then you can turn around and actually put some pressure on them. also the ability to screenshot them so you have proof too

4. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

I hope it won't be working all time, because honestly I don't want to loose battery for this function in which someone who is looking from a side or wearing a sunglass wouldn't be recognized.

5. Brewski

Posts: 730; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

That was my thought. What about people wearing sunglasses?

6. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

And what if the people look it from outside of front camera range, since IPS and OLED display have huge viewing angle. Like when you use your phone on train (of course you cont hold it 50cm in front of your face like in that demo above), and someone beside you take a peek at your screen :v Ultra-wide angle front camera can be useful for it, probably next year some manufacturers will put ultra-wide seconday front camera, lol

7. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Meh, simply get a privacy screen protector or keep your back to a wall while doing whatever with your device...

9. JC557

Posts: 1925; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

pretty much, I also go a bit further and decrease the font size in documents/ notepads and messaging apps so that it's not large enough to be seen over my shoulder while still remaining legible to me.

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