Google Acquires Facial Recognition Software Company PittPatt

Google has just acquired facial recognition software company PittPatt (Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition), according to an announcement on the startup’s site.

PittPatt, a project spawned from Carnegie Mellon University, develops a facial recognition technology that can match people across photos, videos, and more. The company has created a number of algorithms in face detection, face tracking and face recognition. PittPatt’s face detection and tracking SDK locates human faces in photographs and tracks the motion of human faces in video.

Here’s the notice PittPatt has up on its site: Joining Google is the next thrilling step in a journey that began with research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in the 1990s and continued with the launching of Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt) in 2004. We’ve worked hard to advance the research and technology in many important ways and have seen our technology come to life in some very interesting products. At Google, computer vision technology is already at the core of many existing products (such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, and Goggles), so it’s a natural fit to join Google and bring the benefits of our research and technology to a wider audience. We will continue to tap the potential of computer vision in applications that range from simple photo organization to complex video and mobile applications.

Google has reportedly been exploring adding facial recognition to its products (i.e. Google Goggles) more seriously but has held back because of privacy concerns. As the company told Search Engine Land in March, Google wouldn’t put out facial recognition in a mobile app unless there were very strict privacy controls in place.

But in May, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company is “unlikely to employ facial recognition programs.”

Google issued this statement confirming the acquisition:

“The Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition team has developed innovative technology in the area of pattern recognition and computer vision. We think their research and technology can benefit our users in many ways, and we look forward to working with them.”