Street View Face Blurring

Wednesday, 14th May 2008 by

A recent update to the Street View images of Manhattan has added a new feature designed to protect the privacy of innocent people wandering the streets. So what is this incredible new technology? Why, it's automatic blurry faces of course!

The new system is designed to detect faces in the street view images and blur them out, so everyone looks like they've been watching The Ring.

Due to the vast amount of data involved here, the system is fully automatic - which fortunately for us, appears to be prone to making mistakes! For example, it's not just real faces that get blurred - this roadside advert featuring the face of the Dali lama has also been obscured to protect his privacy rights (although if you move up the street and look back and you'll be able to make out his face).

It seems that the system really is very good though. Too good perhaps, as demonstrated by this completely anonymous horse in central park.

One of the reasons that Google has implemented this technology now is possibly that the privacy laws in Canada, Australia and much of Europe would not have allowed images like these to be published otherwise, so it appears that Street View will definitely be coming to a city near you soon.

In the meantime, can anyone find any other examples of incorrectly blurred faces? Or perhaps you can recognise someone despite the blurring? Let us know in the comments!