A new Cincinnati company wants to give consumers the power to control who has permission to take their photograph in public places.
Aerdos was formed by former employees of Harris Corp., who over eight years developed video processing systems for government unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. Through working in that arena, and with the surge of popularity of drones in commercial and hobbyist spaces, the co-founders of Aerdos saw a need for a way to protect privacy.
The company was formed in 2014, but in the process of developing the technology, the co-founders realized that cameras used to capture people’s images in public were all around – on smartphones, tablets, DSLRs – not just on drones.
Aerdos works in a two-fold way. In one part, users upload their faces or the faces of their children and then import their contact lists and choose who has permission to take photos of their face. That list of permission and the user’s intent to not have their photograph taken would be broadcast from their phone, a piece of wearable technology or anything with broadcasting capability.
The second half of the system exists in the camera technology of smartphones, tablets, DSLRs, drones or any commercial camera. When that camera takes a picture, facial recognition technology determines who is in it, and if the shooter doesn’t have permission to capture someone’s face, that face is redacted from the final photo.
“Most people want that capability, but it does step in the face of the idea that you should be able to serendipitously take photos wherever you want,” Aerdos president Geeter Kyrazis told me. “We’re intrigued as to where this is going to go. People are looking at things like Facebook pictures and wondering, ‘Will a picture of my keg party in college effect my ability to get a job in the future?'”
Another way they’re exploring using the technology is by implementing an advertising feature. Say a celebrity is in public and using Aerdos and a fan wants to take a picture. Aerdos could require the fan to view an ad before having access to the unredacted photo. The same could apply for private concert venues – attendees could have to view ads before accessing unredacted concert photos.
There is no legal expectation of privacy in public spaces, so the features Aerdos offers would be voluntary. Smartphone, drone or camera manufacturers would have to choose to include the technology in their products if they believe it is something consumers want.
Aerdos has developed a prototype on a pair of Android phones. It has filed one patent and is planning on applying for another before the year’s end. The company is in the process of closing a seed round of funding that will allow it to expand from a team of five to seven to 10 employees.
Source: Cincinnati Business Courier, Andy Brownfield
Photo: Aerdos would allow users to choose who has permission to take their photograph in public. Their faces would be redacted from photos taken by people without permission.