Google is working on new technology to warn you when someone’s peeking at your phone

Your phone could soon warn you if someone is taking a sneaky peek at the screen over your shoulder.

A new feature, dubbed the electronic screen protector, is being designed by two Google researchers to ensure people can view private content like bank details in public places without the risk of it being seen.

An example video, posted by researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff, demonstrates how the phone knows when a stranger is looking at the screen using the front-facing camera.

It immediately puts the camera’s view on screen, pointing out where the person is by highlighting their face and showing the words “stranger looking alert”.

The developers say this allows users “to continue reading private and confidential contents on (their) mobile device, while protecting their privacy from onlookers in a crowded space such as the subway or an elevator”.

The feature demonstrates a different use for the sort of face detection technology currently being used by Apple in its iPhone X for logging in and powering animoji.

Apple’s iPhone X uses facial recognition software to unlock the handset (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to the researchers, the system works in varying light conditions and with the peeker’s head in different positions.

It takes just two milliseconds to detect someone’s gaze, they say, and 47ms to recognise a face – quick enough to ensure anyone trying to see your screen shouldn’t be able to glean anything useful.

There is no suggestion at this stage that Google is looking to put the feature into commercially available phones, but the researchers will present their work at the Neural Information Processing System conference in California next week.

More in this Section

Embrace an android: Labour study warns UK must boost research and development spending in technology

Gary Oldman’s Darkest Hour performance gets seal of approval from Churchill's family

Uber appeal to Transport for London to be heard in the spring

AI uses bee-like ‘swarm thinking’ to correctly predict Time Person of the Year


Join the conversation - comment here

House rules for comments - FAQ


Today's Stories

Hospitals face closure under new targets law

‘This feud is only starting’: 30 pellets left in baby’s leg after shooting

Kelp-harvesting plan to go ahead in Bantry Bay

Cocaine-related overdoses rising, figures show


No wee feat: Daniel back in the charts with new album this Christmas

The League Of Gentlemen sketch troupe back on TV screens after 15 years

Get ready for the Jedi in latest Star Wars instalment

A heavy burden for such young shoulders caring for parents this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner