Think you might resemble Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’? Or perhaps you and Van Gogh were separated at birth? Google is offering you the chance to see which famous portrait you look like with its Arts and Culture app.
App users are invited to upload a photograph of themselves, which is then sent to Google to trawl for artworks that look like them. Although the app has been available since 2015, the face-matching feature has been only recently been added by developers. Tools already available to users include virtual reality tours of museums and artefacts and a feature, which recognises works of art.
Google’s selfie-comparison tool relies on a biometric identification system called facial recognition. The system detects a face in an image, examines the physical features of the face, creates a ‘faceprint’ of unique characteristics such as the distance between eyes or the shapes of noses and compares it to existing information held in a database.
The selfie-comparison feature is not without its hiccups. It is not available to users in several countries including the United Kingdom and those who can use it have reported generating some very questionable results. One raven-haired user tweeted an image of her art world doppelganger as selected by Google: Jan van Bijlert’s moustachioed ‘Lute Player’.
The app has also raised concerns over Google’s use of the photographs submitted to its platform. Some users are fearful that Google may be transferring their selfies into a facial recognition database and storing them for purposes other than the photo analysis feature. Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: ‘Anyone suspicious of just surrendering your facial recognition to Google or are we confident they already have that at this point?‘
Google assured users that it will not exploit photos for any other purpose and will store them only for as long as it takes to perform the face-matching search.