Google researchers are working to stop people reading over your shoulder

Two Google researchers have released a video showing a new experimental feature that uses the front-facing camera on your phone to alert you when someone is peeking at your screen over your shoulder. 

It’s an all too common problem, and one that at the moment doesn’t have a fix other than tutting at strangers on trains. 

In the demonstration video, you can see the ‘snooper’ being detected, and a Snapchat style vomit rainbow erupting from their mouth. It seems that this is just to demonstrate the effectiveness of the detection system, and what the user actually sees on screen is an alert reading: “Stranger is looking alert!”

You can see the video for yourself below:

Always watching

It would be tempting to adapt this to have a bumper sticker style message like “If you’re reading this, you’re standing too close”, but it would be useful to be alerted to the presence of a shoulder-hoverer. 

One concern is that in order for this feature to be active, you would effectively need to have your front-facing camera on all the time, which would raise concerns for privacy, and potentially battery life. 

The feature is set to be presented by Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California. How long it will be before the feature turns up in actual phones (if ever) is yet to be seen, but if we hear more about it we will, of course, let you know. 

Via Digital Trends

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.